Alaska Gov. Dunleavy is reelected to second term

a man in a suit and tie
Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy answers questions on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, during the Alaska Federation of Natives candidate forum in Anchorage. (Elyssa Loughlin/Alaska Public Media)

Incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy won a second term in office Wednesday, after a final ballot count. 

Dunleavy won the election outright with 50.3% of the vote. Because he secured over half of first-choice votes, the Division of Elections will not tabulate second- and third-choice votes in the race.

Dunleavy will be joined in office by a new lieutenant governor, former Department of Corrections commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom.

The governor has led in his race with more than half the vote since election night, but he said having the results in hand is a relief.

“It brings some finality, and it allows us to now move forward and really start to plan for the next four years,” he said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “It’s a good day for us, and I think it’s a good day for Alaska as well.”

Dunleavy is the only statewide candidate who won their race outright — races for U.S. House and U.S. Senate are headed to ranked choice tabulation Wednesday afternoon. Dunleavy called it an affirmation of his leadership.

Many close legislative races remain up in the air, along with questions of how the state House and state Senate will organize for the upcoming session. The governor says his administration is willing to work with any lawmaker who “wants to move Alaska forward.”

“I think what part of this election shows is that people are not interested in the personalization, the politicalization of some of these relationships,” he said.

Dunleavy’s first four-year term term started with a call for the resignations of 1,200 state employees and drastic proposed budget cuts affecting the university system, ferries and Medicaid. His administration’s initial hardline measures led to a recall effort, which was stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic and later disbanded. 

Dunleavy counts his pandemic response as one of the achievements of his first term. Though Alaska saw periods of severe hospital overflow, it emerged with one of the lowest death rates in the country. 

On Wednesday the governor said he’s looking forward to building on his first term and prioritizing public safety, food security and energy security.

Dunleavy is the first Republican governor in Alaska in four decades to win reelection since Jay Hammond in 1978.

Democrat Les Gara finished second with 24.2%. Independent Bill Walker claimed 20.7% and Republican Charlie Pierce had 4.5%.

In an emailed statement Wednesday afternoon, Gara and his running mate Jessica Cook conceded the race, saying “We wish Governor Dunleavy and Lt. Governor Dahlstrom well in navigating a road ahead that would be difficult no matter who won this election.”

Related stories:

Peltola wins Alaska’s U.S. House race by 10 point margin

Murkowski wins Alaska’s U.S. Senate race

The latest vote tallies in Alaska’s first ranked choice general election

Missed the ranked choice vote count? Watch now.

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Kavitha George is the host of Alaska Morning News at Alaska Public Media. She also reports on business, labor and the economy. Reach her at kgeorge@alaskapublic.org.