Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Alaska Dan Sullivan has secured a 3.6-point lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich as of Wednesday morning with 100 percent of precincts reporting, but tens of thousands of votes may not be counted until as late as next week.
Because of that, Sullivan has not yet declared victory, and Begich has not yet conceded defeat.
The Alaska Dispatch News reports all of the state’s 441 precincts have been counted with Sullivan sitting ahead of Begich at 48.96 to 45.34 percent. State election officials report that some 20,000 absentee votes have yet to be counted as of Wednesday morning, with more expected to roll in until the deadline on Nov. 19.
The Dispatch News reports there are also an unspecified number of “questionable ballots” — ballots cast by voters in the wrong polling place — that have yet to be counted, of which there were approximately 13,000 in 2010.
Despite what could be a days-long wait for a final call, the Sullivan campaign celebrated Republican Senate victories across the U.S., and the party’s new seven-seat victory in the upper chamber — a secure lead no matter which way Alaska goes.
“We are taking back our country!” Sullivan said early Wednesday morning, adding that his campaign is “still going to be respectful of the process.”
The Begich campaign has declined to concede the race until all outlaying votes and rural Alaskan precincts were fully counted. The incumbent senator pulled out a narrow victory in 2008 by 4,000 votes after trailing by more than 3,000 on the night of the election.
“I tell people, it’s never over until the last counts of the last votes, and that includes bush Alaska,” Begich said Wednesday.
Sullivan currently leads by more than 8,000 votes.