This article is published in both Spanish and English in a collaboration between The Alaska Current and Sol de Medianoche.
Progressive and Moderate Candidates Dominate Bronson- Back edConservatives in Early Election Returns
Anchorage residents resoundingly rejected extremism in Tuesday’s municipal election, showing strong support for moderate and progressive candidates. Less than two years after Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s election, Anchorage voters showed their staunch support for candidates who reject his agenda and actively oppose his leadership. “People want competency,” political consultant Jim Lottsfeldt said of the results.
Progressive and moderate candidates, both incumbents and newcomers, took double-digit leads Tuesday, which held Wednesday when more ballots were tabulated. The leading candidates appear to have pulled off a clean sweep of Assembly seats within the Anchorage bowl. Incumbent Anchorage School Board member Andy Holleman also took a near 11-point lead over Bronson-backed Mark Anthony Cox. While votes continue to be counted, the probable wins will allow the majority to retain the ability to override mayoral vetoes. “I wouldn’t have predicted the size of the leads,” said Ira Slomski-Pritz of Ship Creek Group, which ran several of the campaigns. “We are just resoundingly rejecting Bronson.”
Brian Flynn, perhaps the candidate most closely aligned with the mayor, has been appointed to two commissions by Bronson. His wife is Bronson’s purchasing director, and Bronson hosted his first campaign fundraiser. Oddly, Bronson never officially endorsed Flynn, something Flynn specifically pointed out to the media. Initial results show Flynn trailing progressive candidate Anna Brawley by about 23 points. “Once people realized that he was married to Bronson’s purchasing director, it really sort of came around pretty quickly,” Slomski-Pritz said.
Lottsfeldt said the results are a clear referendum on Bronson and his management of the city. “People are going to be so desperate after Bronson to have someone that says ‘Yes, I can plow the streets.’”
In South Anchorage, which elected conservative Randy Sulte in 2022 over moderate incumbent John Weddleton, moderate newcomer Zac Johnson has an 11-point edge over Bronson-endorsed candidate, Rachel Ries, who had name recognition after a 2022 school board run. “That really felt like the race to win,” Slomski-Pritz said. “We couldn’t take it for granted at all.”
In East Anchorage, where two seats are open, another first-time candidate Karen Bronga, a life-long East Anchorage resident, swelled to a 20-point lead over fellow first-timer Leigh Sloan, a school choice advocate and campaign manager for Stephanie Taylor’s failed 2022 Assembly run.
In the other eastside race, former mayoral candidate George Martinez, who previously worked in the administration of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, is leading Spencer Moore, an outreach director at the former Anchorage Baptist Temple and son-in-law of the current pastor who tried to distance himself from Bronson, by 12 points.
In Midtown, incumbent Felix Rivera, who was the target of a heavy-handed, last-minute attack campaign from Bronson, has a comfortable 12-point lead over Travis Szanto.
The election may signal the end to a contentious era in local politics that began with conservatives weaponizing the Assembly’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and attempts to solve homelessness.
Lottsfeldt, a veteran of Alaska politics who has supported moderate and progressive candidates, said the Republican bench today is largely made up of more extreme candidates, or what he called the “Jamie Allard branch of the Republican party.” “Those guys are not in the mainstream,” he said. “We’re going to beat them.”
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