Congressional race certain, but Senate GOP race still too early to call

Although almost 38 percent of precincts had reported as of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Forrest Dunbar emerged early as the clear winner of the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. Congress. Dunbar had 62 percent of the votes to Frank Vondersaar’s 15 percent. Vondersaar, who recently developed some health issues, had said he did not feel fit enough to run and threw his support to Dunbar. Incumbent Don Young also appeared to be the clear winner for the Republican Party nomination with 74 percent of the votes.

“I really believe that Forrest Dunbar is a viable candidate,” said Frank Mullen, a Homer supporter of Dunbar. “He offers plenty of integrity and dignity for all Alaskans, which is something we’ve been in exceedingly short supply for a lot of years in Alaska.”

Mullen thought that despite Young’s long experience knocking off challengers, 2014 might be the year a Democrat wins.

“This may be the year for Rep. Young that people finally get tired of him. It’s hard to predict. It’s a long way to November,” he said.

In the Republican Party race for the U.S. Senate nomination, former attorney general Dan Sullivan held on to a 6-point lead over Joe Miller and a 15-point lead over Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. For Treadwell supporter Jon Faulkner, that came as a surprise, although he wasn’t ready to call the election yet.

“I expected to him to be beating Joe Miller,” he said. “I also feel that Sullivan had taken some hits more recently and was losing momentum. I expected Mead to do much better and to be very close to Sullivan, and both of them to be a good 10 percent vote against Miller.”

For Miller supporter Barnabas Firth, Miller’s strong showing didn’t surprise him.

“In the past week and a half, just monitoring what’s going on across the state, we really saw a surge of support in Anchorage,” Firth said. “Down here locally we have a strong support base. I really expected him to have a stronger showing than the polls were indicating.”

Faulkner said he agreed Miller has a strong base.

“They don’t tend to switch votes. They’re younger and much more anti-government, anti-intrusion into their private lives. They’re really more Alaska Independence Party voters. They tend to be very loyal,” Faulkner said. “I didn’t think their numbers were there to cause Mead supporters to be a minority here. I’m very surprised by that.”

Sen. Mark Begich also clinched the Democratic Party nomination, easily beating William Bryk 83 percent to 3 percent. Begich supporter Liz Downing said if Sullivan wins, it will be a tough race.

“He’s always had tough races,” she said. “He’s made it clear from the beginning this one is going to be down to the people who show up.”

Downing said she thinks Begich deserves to be re-elected.

“I think Sen. Begich has done an amazing job these past few years. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him in action, listening to him dozens of times, listening to him talking to individuals in small groups. He’s really a problem solver. That’s why I support him.”