Alaska holds first top-four primary for governor

Alaska held its first top-four primary for governor on August 16. Based on unofficial returns on election night, three candidates—Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R), former state Rep. Les Gara (D), and former Gov. Bill Walker (I)—appeared likely to advance. Dunleavy received 42.3% of the vote, followed by Gara with 21.7% and Walker with 21.4%. The fourth candidate to advance will be Charlie Pierce (R), who had 7.2% of the vote, or Christopher Kurka (R), who had 4.1%.

This is the first use of the top-four primary system for governor of Alaska since voters approved it in November 2020. Regardless of party affiliation, all candidates run in a single primary election. The four candidates to receive the most votes advance to the general election. The four-candidate general election will use ranked-choice voting.

Three race forecasting outlets rated the general election as Likely or Solid Republican. In the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) received 52.8% of the vote in Alaska, while Joe Biden (D) received 42.8%.

According to the Associated Press, no Alaska governor has been re-elected since Tony Knowles (D) in 1998. Sean Parnell (R), who became governor in 2009 following the resignation of Sarah Palin (R), won a full term in 2010 but lost his re-election bid in 2014.