Reports of the death of conservatism in America have been greatly exaggerated. And more proof of that statement is unfolding in Anchorage, Alaska on May 5th, 2009, as conservative mayoral candidate Dan Sullivan cruised to victory over the more liberal Eric Croft. With all 119 precincts now counted, Sullivan leads by 57-43 percent (well over a 7,300 vote lead), so for all intents and purposes, it's over, and congratulations, Mayor-elect Sullivan. Also a hat tip to Eric Croft for running a spirited campaign. The Alaska Standard is live-blogging it from the Millenium Hotel at this time. KTUU story will be posted HERE. The Anchorage Daily News has now declared Sullivan the winner. Sullivan will officially be sworn in on July 1st. KTUU news video embedded below:
Sullivan's 17-month grand adventure began on December 19th, 2007, just six months prior to the expiration of his third and final term on the Anchorage Assembly. He nearly pulled off an outright victory on April 7th, 2009 when he ended up with 43.38 percent of the vote, just shy of the 45 percent necessary to avoid a runoff. There were simply too many marquee candidates in the race. Had Paul Honeman alone stayed out, it is possible that Sullivan would have got 45 percent. Afterwards, many of the losing candidates ganged up on Sullivan, with Matt Claman, Sheila Selkregg, and Paul Honeman all endorsing Eric Croft. In contrast, Walt Monegan kept his word and chose to endorse neither Sullivan nor Croft.
A KTUU "unscientific" poll conducted on April 9th showed 58 percent of respondents supporting Croft; now we know just how unscientific their polls are. Most other projections showed Sullivan winning up to 55 percent of the vote. On April 24th, Sullivan picked up a critical but potentially double-edged endorsement from former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens; in retrospect, that may have helped seal Sullivan's victory. He also picked up the Anchorage Daily News endorsement.
Also on April 9th, I decided to handicap the runoff election by projecting how the support of the defeated candidates would migrate. Here's what I wrote:
Here's a rough breakdown on the possible migration of votes in the runoff election. Note that this is unscientific, primarily driven by gut feel and precedence:
Dan Sullivan: Starts out with his 43 percent.
Eric Croft: Starts out with his 19 percent.
Sheila Selkregg: As one of the most progressive candidates, her supporters will overwhelmingly support Croft. Of her 16 percent, 14 goes to Croft, two to Sullivan. Selkregg has now publicly endorsed Croft.
Matt Claman: As another of the most progressive candidates, his supporters will migrate to Croft. Of his 6 percent, 5 goes to Croft, one to Sullivan. Claman has publicly endorsed Croft.
Paul Honeman: Most of his supporters likely to migrate to Sullivan; 4 percent to Sullivan, one percent to Croft. Honeman has not publicly endorsed either candidate.
Walt Monegan: A wild card. I'd say of his 9 percent, 6 percent to Croft, 3 percent to Sullivan. Monegan will not endorse either candidate.
Nine secondary candidates: More likely to support Croft, except for Billy Ray Powers' constituency.
And when I add up the totals, I get 55 percent for Sullivan, and 45 percent for Croft.
And how did we end up? 57 percent for Sullivan, 43 percent for Croft. It looks like this handicapping tactic worked better than KTUU's "unscientific" poll, at the very least.
Rarely has a newly-minted mayor been better prepared to take the helm of a city than Dan Sullivan. Not only is he the son of former Anchorage Mayor George Sullivan, but he also served three terms on the Anchorage Assembly, where he learned every possible trick Assembly Members use to sneak their pet projects through the mill. Thus Sullivan will be superbly prepared to cope with the Assembly should it slip into a spendthrift mode.