Where to weep or cheer election returns in Anchorage

If your plans called for watching the election returns at the Egan Center in Anchorage, think again. (File photo)
If your plans called for watching the election returns at the Egan Center in Anchorage, think again. (File photo)

If your habit on election night was to roll down to the Egan Center and watch the returns projected onto the wall, forget about it. The Alaska Division of Elections has discontinued Election Central, due to budget constraints. But you don’t have to weep or cheer at home alone. In Anchorage, at least, people have options.

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Across America, we are sorting ourselves into silos. More and more Republicans and Democrats associate with their own kind. So it goes, too, with election night in Anchorage, now that there’s no state-sponsored neutral zone.

The Republican Party plans its shindig at the Top of the World, at the Hilton Hotel on Third Avenue. The Democrats will be partying three blocks away, at Williwaw, at Sixth and F Street.

The Trump-Pence campaign will be right across the street, at Flattop Pizza. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s people will be at the 49th State Brewing Company, and challenger Joe Miller’s folks are gathering in the conference room at Davis Constructors. Senate candidate Margaret Stock, in keeping with her independent billing, plans to shuttle between the Republicans at the Hilton and the Democrats at the Willawaw.

If you want nonpartisan, one option is the Bear Tooth Theatrepub, on Spenard Road. General Manager Stephanie Johnson says with the Egan Center dark on election night, they sensed a void.

“The more we thought about it, the more we thought that we might be able to be a really

Secrecy folders for ballots and "I Voted" stickers at a polling place in the State Office Building for early and absentee voting, Aug. 15, 2016. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)
Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO

nice inviting neutral place for people all over the community,” she said.

The Bear Tooth is inviting campaigns and their supporters, politicos and the politically curious to mingle over beer. Word to the wise: the event announcement says “Courteous behavior is expected.” Johnson says she doesn’t foresee any trouble.

“I would put it on the same level of our concern when we host the Superbowl,” she said. “We know that people have deep-rooted passions and feelings about who wins. But in the end we’re all in it together.”

If this election doesn’t drive you to drink, it might prod you to prayer.

“This election season has been kind of rough on all of us, and so we’re doing something to counteract that,” said Rev. Rachel Simpson of Unity of Anchorage, issuing an invite on YouTube to her church, on East 68th Street. On Election Day, Unity is holding a non-partisan prayer vigil.

“On the hour, every hour, our prayers will be led by different faith leaders from the area,” Simpson said.

To maintain neutrality, Simpson says no political content will be permitted, beyond the “I voted” sticker. The vigil is planned for the entire time polls are open in Alaska, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.




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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.