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Tuesday’s state primary election will surprise.
The first surprise will be what isn’t on the ballot — incumbent independent Dan Ortiz of Ketchikan, statewide ballot measures, independent Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, and the question of whether to recall Ketchikan’s School Board president.
All of those are high profile people and issues at present.
But Tuesday isn’t their day.
Ortiz, Gov. Walker, Lt. Gov. Mallott, and the measures will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. The Shaw question will be posed Oct. 6 in the municipal election.
Another surprise — at least to some — will be, once again, the choice of two ballots. Again, for some.
The Democrats’ ballot will include Democrats, of course, but undeclared, non-partisan and Libertarian candidates will appear also.
This ballot has four candidates seeking to challenge the leading Republican candidate, Don Young, for Alaska’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Three of the four candidates — Dimitri Shein, Democrat; Christopher Cumings, non-partisan, and Alyse Galvin, undeclared — participated in a recent Ketchikan debate, which was put on the Alaska Democratic Party and House District 36 Democrats. Democrat Carol Hafner has never been to Alaska, but appears on the ballot, apparently legally.
The Democrats’ ballot features Libertarian William Toien and Democrat Mark Begich in the governor’s race. Begich is a former U.S. senator.
The only choice for lieutenant governor on the ballot is Democrat Debra Call.
There’s also one candidate on the ballot for the state House District 36 race; Ketchikan Democrat Ghert Abbott appears alone.
The Republican ballot has twice as many candidates as the Democrats.
Beginning with the congressional race, Young faces two challengers for the Republican nomination in Thomas Nelson and Jed Whitaker.
In the governor’s race, candidates seeking to carry the Republican banner into the general election include Darin Colby, Mike Dunleavy, Thomas Gordon, Gerald Heikes, Merica Hiatcu, Michael Sheldon and Mead Treadwell.
Lt. Gov. candidates who would like to join the winning Republican gubernatorial candidate include Stephen Wright, Lynn Gattis, Edie Grunwald, Sharon Jackson, Kevin Meyer and Gary Stevens.
And, as with the Democrats’ ballot, state House District 36 candidate Trevor Shaw appears alone on the Republican ballot.
Anything can happen in Alaska politics and often does. Whether the field is full or not so much, it is important to participate in the primary election.
Candidates are making a sacrifice that not too many other Alaskans are willing to make. These candidates are willing to become public figures, which can be a thankless and sometimes unforgiving experience.
Yet, public service also can be satisfying and rewarding. It often is.
But the fact remains that only a handful out of hundreds of thousands of Alaskans are stepping up. Only three out of the thousands in District 36 are stepping up.
If they’re willing to take those steps. Then voters should be able to step into the primary’s booth and show some support.
Let’s go to the polls.