With all 23 precincts reporting, Senator Gary Stevens appears to be headed back to Juneau. The Kodiak Republican won 63 percent of the vote in his race against Greg Madden of Soldotna.
In the unofficial count, Stevens has 5,696 votes, compared to Madden’s 3,279 votes.
The Permanent Fund Dividend has been one of the major issues in this race, going back to the Republican primary, in which Stevens’ challenger, John Cox, campaigned hard for a full PFD.
Stevens, who voted to reduce the PFD to avert drastic budget cuts, narrowly survived his challenge from Cox, a relative political unknown. Despite that, Stevens says he hasn’t changed his position on the dividend.
“It’d be easy to make promises, but you want to be careful about that,” Stevens said. “It does seem to me that a lot of the folks running almost tried to buy their way into office by saying, ‘I’ll give you $3,000 if you vote for me.”
Stevens says he hopes the vote reflects an understanding of the fiscal realities.
Madden is an Alaskan Independence Party candidate and also a passionate advocate for a full PFD. He had hoped Cox’s support would transfer to him.
“It comes down to liberty and freedom. I take those things very seriously, and I respect peoples liberty and freedom and believe the PFD is their property,” Madden said. “The people have choices, and I was just here to make sure I could be a voice for those who wanted it.”
Madden, who is a chiropractor, chalked up his weaker performance to his inexperience as a candidate.
Both men concede it’s possible that their PFD positions didn’t have anything to do with the outcome of the race – and was perhaps due to this year’s presidential race and the tendency for Trump supporters to vote a straight Republican ticket.
Stevens was appointed to the state senate in 2003, when Alan Austerman resigned to become Governor Frank Murkowski’s fisheries advisor. He represents Senate P, a wide-ranging district that takes in Kodiak, Homer, parts of the Kenai Peninsula, as well as Cordova and Yakutat.
At the age of 79, he will be the oldest state senator and second in seniority.