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Jared Kamrass on primary elections in the last frontier

Jared Kamrass on primary elections in the last frontierPhoto from Unsplash

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On the same night much of the national political news was (rightly) focusing on Rep. Liz Cheney’s primary demise for crossing President Trump, a very different story was being told in Alaska.

For the first time, the Last Frontier was holding statewide primary elections for its Top-4 Ranked Choice elections in November. This method, also known as Instant Run-off, allows the top four vote-getters (regardless of party) to advance to the General election, where voters will rank the candidates in order of preference.

While Sen. Lisa Murkowski is part of a Republican political dynasty in Alaska, her vote to convict President Trump after his second impeachment put her squarely in the crosshairs of the former President and Republican base voters. Had she been forced to run in a Republican primary where only the most diehard Republicans typically participate, she likely would have met the same fate as Rep. Cheney.

But Alaska’s new system likely saved Murkowski’s career in the short term. It also probably bought her six more years this fall.

By having all candidates on the ballot in the August all-party primary, independent and even some Democratic, voters gave their vote to the Senator, allowing her to advance to November with a 44.2% plurality. Her showing bested even the Trump-endorsed Kelly Tshibaka.

Without having to face the wrath of Republican primary voters, Sen. Murkowski lives to fight another day. In November, she will garner first place votes from voters across the ideological spectrum, and perhaps just as many second choice votes from liberal Democrats and Trump aligned Republicans.

While Rep. Cheney’s career in public office is ending, at least for the time being, Sen. Murkowski seems poised to be sent back to Washington for another term this fall.

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