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5 things to know about Alaska's midterm election

Posted: August 30, 2014 - 6:03pm

ANCHORAGE — Legalizing pot, trying to find the Libertarian candidate for Senate and whittling through a growing field for Alaska governor are among the things to watch ahead of the Nov. 4 election:

Residents in both Alaska and Oregon will decide whether to legalize the recreation use of marijuana during separate ballot measures in November. Washington state already has approved the use of pot, as has Colorado.

Alaska’s marijuana measure, along with ballot measures on a minimum wage increase and requiring legislative approval for a large-scale metallic sulfide mining operation in the Bristol Bay region, were supposed to have been on the primary ballot. But the state Legislature went into extended session in April. Statutory and constitutional provisions require that at least 120 days pass after the regular session adjourns before the day of the election for purposes of initiative placement, pursing the measures to November.

The Alaska Libertarian Party may wind up with a U.S Senate candidate that doesn’t want to be on the ballot. Thom Walker won the primary election without campaigning. He works in the Brooks Range, and party officials say he posted his withdrawal from the race on their Facebook site. The problem is, he’s mostly out of contact and only periodically sends messages from a satellite phone. Election officials say posting notice to withdraw on Facebook isn’t good enough. Go figure. He’ll have to have a signed letter sent to the state by Tuesday to exit the race. If he does, the party will make Mark Fish, a former party chairman, its candidate to battle the race’s two high-profile candidates: Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and Republican challenger Dan Sullivan.

This year’s general election for governor is expected to be a spirited three-way race between incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, Democrat Byron Mallott and independent candidate Bill Walker. But there’s another candidate in the race. J.R. Myers collected enough signatures to qualify as the candidate for the Constitution Party, which has a platform goal of restoring “American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.” Libertarian Carolyn Clift is also running.

If Republican Gov. Sean Parnell wins re-election and serves out his term, he’ll be the second longest serving governor in the state’s 55-year history. Then the lieutenant governor, Parnell took office in 2009 when Gov. Sarah Palin resigned. He then was elected to his own term in 2010. Democrat William Egan holds the record with three four-year terms, the last in 1970.

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