House Speaker Bryce Edgmon weighs in on state primary results

Sep 3, 2020

Initial returns from election night showed a big turnout among conservative voters, which meant challengers threatened several incumbents in the state legislature. But that was later offset by a bigger show of moderates in absentee votes. 

Voter sign in at City Hall in Dillingham. August 18, 2020.
Credit Brian Venua/KDLG

Results from Alaska’s August 18 primary election are in. Initial returns from election night showed a big turnout among conservative voters, which meant challengers threatened several incumbents in the state legislature. But that was later offset by a bigger show of moderates in absentee votes. 

“The absentee votes that have since come in — many thousands of them around the state — the numbers have really skewed more towards a more moderate voice, if you will, in a lot of elections around the state," said House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, who ran unopposed in District 37’s primary race. "Still some pretty powerful results. The fact that a number of incumbents aren’t going to be returning to Juneau at this point is a pretty loud statement by voters." 

Seven Republican incumbents were defeated by their challengers. That includes Senate President Cathy Giessel and Sen. John Coghill of North Pole, who lost by 14 votes to challenger Robert Myers. 

Five House Republicans also lost their primary races, including Anchorage Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux, Jennifer Johnston and Chuck Kopp. Those representatives have caucused with the House Democrats and independents in the majority caucus in recent years. 

Eagle River Rep. Sharon Jackson lost to challenger Ken McCarty, and Big Lake Rep. Mark Neuman lost to Kevin McCabe. 

Edgmon said that the general election in November will show a different picture of the voting public, since candidates from all parties will be on one ballot.  

“In terms of the fall, I expect there’s going to be eyes on every single race, because the building of governing coalitions could hinge on just a handful of seats, just like it did in 2016 and 2018," he said. "So at this point, I think it’s too early to put your finger on any pulse out there, but just that the outcomes of the majority coalitions, as you call them, will hinge on just a handful of seats around the state.”

The state review board certified the results. Local elections for Dillingham and the Bristol Bay Borough are October 6. The general election is November 3. 

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.