Democratic Alaska Sen. Mark Begich still refuses to concede to Republican Dan Sullivan in Alaska — even though he’s down by more than 8,000 votes with 100 percent of the precincts reporting. But Begich is awaiting the results of uncounted votes including absentee ballots that may not have been received yet by the state, according to officials. Republicans want the state’s first $50 million election to be wrapped up.
“Tribal leaders on snow machines” count as one of the groups that Begich is waiting on, according to one insider.
An independent newspaper analysis found that after the 22,000 reportedly uncounted absentee and early votes are counted, Sullivan would add approximately another 1,100 to his lead. Of the 13,804 alleged early ballots requested by voters that have not been turned in yet, the numbers appear to favor Sullivan taking most of them.
When Sullivan’s communications director ran into Begich’s communications director Max Crowe at Kaladi Brothers Cafe in Anchorage Thursday morning, the two operatives were polite. Back at their respective offices, a staring match has begun based around a central contention: Democrats want to stretch the decision into next week, using lenient state traditions about absentee vote-counting from “rural areas.” Republicans say that no matter how you crunch the numbers, Begich has no chance.
According to information leaking out of the state elections division, most of the late-arriving absentee ballots are not even coming from rural areas. Rather, those scattered ballots seem to be coming from cities like Anchorage, Fairbanks, and one of the few Democratic urban strongholds in the state: Juneau, where such votes may be more likely to come from a University of Alaska Southeast student than from a rural villager where the postal service has a considerably longer route.
Begich’s camp has not reached out to Sullivan’s team on a formal level as of press time, and Begich headquarters has not responded to our request for comment. Begich won his 2008 race by 4,000 votes after being down by 3,000 on election night, a much closer race than this one. He told election-night pool reporters, “It’s never over until the last counts of the last votes, and that includes bush Alaska.”