Alaska Redistricting Board votes to gerrymander Anchorage’s Senate Districts — again

The conservative majority on the Alaska Redistricting Board voted to pair Eagle River and Southside in the Senate, effectively repeating the same gerrymander the state Supreme Court had ordered them to rectify.

On Wednesday, April 13th, the Alaska Redistricting Board voted 3-2 on Option 3B, which revises the board’s previous Senate pairings after they were struck down by the Alaska Supreme Court. It was a vote that pitted the conservative majority members of the board (Chair Binkley, Marcum, and Simpson) against two independents (Borromeo and Bahnke).

After the board finished drawing House Districts in November, they rushed through a series of pairings that would have stuck the Eagle River Valley with South Muldoon. That decision was ultimately determined to be a political gerrymander that benefitted Eagle River by giving them two Senate seats instead of one.

The new map addresses the court decision by pairing North and South Muldoon’s districts back together, but still splits up Eagle River into two Senate seats by pairing the ER Valley with South Anchorage instead.

But before this map was passed, the Board deliberated between two final plans: Options 2 and 3B. It is important to quickly review this debate to understand how these pairings came to be, and the politics that were played in order to make it happen.

The politics behind Options 2 and 3B

A quick look at the partisan breakdown of these maps shows why the conservative majority on the board were willing to entertain the minimal testimony and reasoning in favor of pairing Eagle River and Southside. Using data from the Harvard Voting and Election Science Team, we can break down how likely each district is to vote for a Democrat or Republican using the district’s average of the 2016 Presidential, 2018 Gubernatorial, 2020 Presidential and 2020 Senate elections.

Map Option 2 (East Anchorage Plantiff Plan)
Map created using Dave’s Redistricting App

Map 2, offered by some of the East Anchorage plantiffs that won their Supreme Court case, would have paired communities of interest together in a sensible way. Many of the pairings here reflect requests from communities that have testified at both the state and municipal redistricting processes since November: it unites North and South Muldoon, both Eagle River’s House Districts, keeps Downtown/Fairview with the remainder of Downtown, and keeps a majority of the Midtown business core together.

It is a largely competitive map. The data leaves some districts in the “competitive” category, but some of those have clear partisan leans — the Abbott Loop/Hillside district is bound to be an uphill battle for a Democrat; the broader West Anchorage district is on the other side of that spectrum. In most cycles, it will probably end up a 3R-3D map with two genuinely toss-up seats.

It is unclear why the three conservative board members disapproved of this plan. Even after listening to all the redistricting board meetings on these new pairings, none of them could articulate what was wrong with this plan. They only had thoughts on why their plan was better.

This map, as well as an earlier plan put forward by independent board member Melanie Bahnke, was heavily politicized by conservative media. Must Read Alaska put out several hit pieces claiming it was the work of Democrats, and that any map that didn’t split up Eagle River’s district was depriving them of the two senators the area is entitled to.

Map Option 3B (Marcum-Ruedrich Plan)
Map created using Dave’s Redistricting App

Map 3B was drawn up by Randy Ruedrich and board member Bethany Marcum. Marcum fixed the Senate pairings the last time around, which went to court and lost. Randy is the former party chair for the state GOP, who was forced to leave in exile due to ethics violations. Randy helped fix the Senate pairings in 2012, which were also gerrymandered and successfully broke apart the Bipartisan Senate Coalition and led to full GOP takeover of all branches of state government.

Map 3B makes some questionable choices that resemble board member Marcum’s attempt to fix the Anchorage pairings in favor of GOP representatives.

First, it pairs South Anchorage with the Eagle River Valley. During the Anchorage Reapportionment process, maps were proposed by myself and Alaskans for Fair Redistricting that paired the ER Valley and parts of the Hillside. This pairing received quick and intense backlash: multiple community councils drew up resolutions opposing such an idea, and the four Assembly members from ER and South Anchorage received overwhelming feedback asking them to vote against the maps.

However, in an about face, the same folks who opposed pairing them together called in to support the pairing at the state level. Some who actively testified against such pairings in the past gave conflicting testimony in favor of them just last week.

Case in point: Susan Fischetti of Eagle River. Susan was an elector for Alaska in 2000 and is an officer of the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club. In October of 2021, Susan submitted testimony to the Alaska Redistricting Board in opposition of pairing Eagle River with Southside. Then, in February of 2022, Susan emailed the Assembly calling any maps that paired ER and South together a “gerrymander”.

Susan Fischetti’s testimony to the AK Redistricting Board in October ’21 opposing ER/South pairing
Susan Fischetti submitting similar testimony to the Assembly opposing maps that paired Eagle River and Hillside

Then, once the board began considering new pairings, Susan called in to testify in favor of pairing Eagle River and Southside during an April 4th public testimony session.

The following day, Anchorage Downtown Assembly member Chris Constant pointed out Susan’s about-face. Shortly after, Susan called in herself and testified — again in favor of pairing Eagle River and Southside! Once Susan was finished testifying, board member Nicole Borromeo took the opportunity to ask why Susan had changed her mind, which can be seen below:

After a long pause following Borromeo’s question, Susan simply said that since she’s from Eagle River she’s more of an expert on the subject. According to Susan, “we don’t have an option, I don’t see anything else that we can do”. That is clearly not true, as there were multiple contiguous options available to pair the Eagle River Valley district with — including the other Eagle River district.

I want to be clear: I supported pairing Eagle River and Hillside during the Anchorage reapportionment process, which is a separate process that requires a certain population per district in a way that the state process does not. I lay out my reasoning here, but the most important part is that Eagle River did not have enough population to make up their own district, requiring an area from the Anchorage Bowl to be pulled into the district. Of the options available, Hillside was the fairest and most socio-economically viable option. Here, there were clear alternatives that the majority of the board decided to ignore.

Consequently, the 3B map was passed, giving the GOP a strong edge in the State Senate. Compared to Option 2, 3B creates an additional Safe Republican seat. The R-leaning seat in Oceanview/Taku/Campbell is also another example where the data marks it as competitive, but in reality its more likely than not to go to a Republican. So, 3B creates a possible 4R-4D map.

From the outside, that might seem fair — the partisanship ends up 50/50, right? The board’s duty is not to create an equal amount of Democratic and Republican seats. The majority on the board advocated for a map that preserved a partisan advantage for them, rather than one that made the most sense. That is indefensible at any level. It repeats the harms outlined by the Alaska Supreme Court, which decried the previous Senate map for extending Eagle River’s representation at the expense of another community. This time, they did the exact same thing but picked a different community to bite the bullet.

Lastly: as a cherry on top, Option 3B also pairs together two Republican Senators who have been a thorn in the side of the AK GOP. Coincidentally, they are the same Senators from the districts being paired together to create a GOP advantage: Senators Reinbold (Eagle River Valley) and Holland (Southside). Another coincidence: these same Senators called in to testify against being paired together! This will require them to run against each other in the same Senate district, essentially forcing one of their retirements.

What happens next?

On April 15th, the board must issue a status update to Judge Matthews at the Supreme Court. Matthews could essentially do one of three things:

  • Decide that his order was met by the board and allow the new pairings to stand for election this August/November
  • Criticize the new pairings for failing to meet the order, sending the board back to repair them again
  • Repair the Senate districts himself, which would be the first time Alaska’s redistricting process was fully passed over to the courts

At the end of the day, this is an inherently political process. Everyone wants to claim to be impartial, but we have a board full of political appointees with very little legal jurisprudence guiding what we ought to be doing to get fair districts. Nobody is impartial because the stakes are so high. I hope Judge Matthews recognizes this and takes this process out of the hands of the redistricting board — we do not have the time to do repair the Senate a third time.

If we run out, we may have to default to using the pairings drawn this year and then re-do them before the next cycle. But by then, the harm will have already been done: sitting members of the Legislature will have been elected under gerrymandered districts.

Weddleton Assembly map moves forward in unanimous vote

Weddleton’s map is now subject to amendments by members of the Assembly, which will be viewable by the public on March 14th

In an Assembly meeting on March 1st, the body voted unanimously to move forward Southside Assembly member John Weddleton’s map forward for consideration.

The vote followed months of public process led by the Anchorage Reapportionment Committee, Chaired by Downtown Assemblyman Chris Constant. Ultimately, 4 maps were produced by the redistricting contractor RDI while 12 maps were produced by members of the public for a total of 16 maps up for consideration — more than any other reapportionment cycle in Anchorage’s history. Opportunities for public input on these maps included 10 public committee meetings, and 3 open town halls, and 2 chances to testify at Assembly meetings.

Though all 16 maps were thoroughly debated, the Reapportionment Committee has been slowly eliminating maps as the process has gone on. Weddleton’s map moved on from a final field of 4 maps, which included:

  • Map 6 Version 2 by Anchorage Action (drawn from feedback from dozens of members of the group)
  • Map 7 Version 2 by Robert Hockema (me)
  • Map 11 Version 2 by John Weddleton (drawn by Denny Wells, whose 3 maps submitted under their own name were rejected by the committee earlier in the process)
  • Map 12 by Eagle River-Chugiak Assemblywoman Jamie Allard and Mayor Dave Bronson (previously rejected due to failure to submit a properly formatted shapefile which illegally divided U.S. Census Blocks)

Following the vote to move Weddleton’s map forward, Assembly members had until March 7th to offer amendments to the map. These amendments will be published on the reapportionment website on Monday, March 14th, just one day before the last public hearing on March 15th.

A quick look at the map

Weddleton’s map looks a bit like a compromise map. Assembly members have voiced specific concerns about what areas go where on the map. For instance, Both members from Eagle River-Chugiak as well as South-Girdwood ruled out maps that paired the ER-Chugiak district with an area of Hillside.

Additionally, Midtown members Felix Rivera and Meg Zaletel expressed concern that core areas of Midtown were left out in almost all of the maps, especially Rogers Park and Airport Heights. Weddleton’s map unites all of Rogers Park, but leaves Airport Heights in the newly expanded Downtown district.

In order to accommodate these concerns, Weddleton’s map does a few things:

  • Downtown pushes East to take in all of North/South Mountain View, while moving south into Airport Heights, as well as south into areas of Fireweed and Spenard. It even takes in the Forest Park neighborhood, which includes West High School.
  • Midtown loses the Dimond area but pushes west to the border of Minnesota.
  • Most notable change is West’s district, which now pushes south of Campbell Lake to include over 7,000 people in Bayshore and Southport
Bayshore/Southport area south of the yellow line
  • Eagle River-Chugiak’s district was left underpopulated by 1,472 people, a deviation of -3.03%. It is by far the most under/overpopulated district in Weddleton’s map.
  • South’s district remains largely the same while taking in about 1,500 people from the Dimond area.
Partisanship impacts

Note: Politics are off limits during Committee and Assembly discussions of reapportionment, so it’s important to note that the following considerations are purely for analysis.

Weddleton’s map has an especially strong impact on West’s district because of the Bayshore-Southport pairing. Note, this is a less dramatic reach into Southside than the Allard/Bronson map (originally proposed by Deputy Chief of Staff for the Bronson administration Brice Wilkins).

2020: Trump +9.5, Composite 2016-2020: 11.9, Runoff 2021: Bronson +11.2

The new area drawn into Weddleton’s map votes solidly Republican, having voted for Trump by +9.5% in 2020. These communities are high turnout too, which means its guaranteed to influence the results of West’s Assembly races.

What does this do to the district as a whole? Not only does West’s district take in solidly conservative turf to the south, but it loses a precinct in West Anchorage that voted for Dunbar by +34%.

For context, West’s current district voted for Biden by +12% in 2020. Under the new map, West would have voted for Biden by +7%.

Likewise, West’s current district voted for Dunbar in Anchorage’s 2021 mayoral runoff by +7.5%. Under the new map, it would have voted for Dunbar by roughly+4.7%.

How will this impact the makeup of the Assembly? This would give conservatives a better shot at flipping the Assembly. The effect is that West would go from being as safely democratic as Midtown’s district (Biden +9.6, Dunbar +10) to a solidly democratic district such as East (Biden +7, Dunbar +5). In other words, West would still be an uphill battle for a far-right Save Anchorage-type conservative to win, but a strong candidate could flip a seat or two well before the next reapportionment cycle.

The process going forward

Assembly members submitted their amendments before March 7th, which will be posted for the public to view on Monday, March 14th. There are areas in Weddleton’s map that are likely to change based on the priorities Assembly members have for their districts. Wests members Austin Quinn-Davidson and Kameron Perez-Verdia may take issue with putting Forest Park and West High into Downtown; Midtown members Meg Zaletel and Felix Rivera have voiced the Airport Heights Community Council’s concern of being completely cut out of Midtown’s district. Though unlikely, the Bayshore/Southport pairing with West could be amended too.

3/14Amendments (if any) to proposed maps will be posted
3/15Public Hearing #3 at Regular Assembly Meeting, 6pm at Assembly
Chambers at Loussac Library
3/18Assembly Worksession on Reapportionment, 1-3pm at City Hall, Suite
155
3/23Special Assembly meeting re: Reapportionment and process for filling
new Assembly seat, 6pm at Assembly Chambers at Loussac Library
3/24Reapportionment Committee meeting (if needed), TBD at City Hall,
Suite 155
Remaining Assembly reapportionment timeline

The case for pairing Eagle River and Hillside

Anchorage’s reapportionment is more than a nerdy task for map enthusiasts and policy makers. At the heart of how to draw our new Assembly districts is one question: what *is* Anchorage?

Do Spenard and Turnagain belong in Westside? Does JBER claim Eagle River more than other areas in the Anchorage “Bowl”? Is Dimond a part of Southside or Midtown?

And yet, at the same time, Anchorage reapportionment is a numbers game. In 2020, voters passed Prop 12, which adds a 12th Assembly member to the body. Right now, Downtown’s district is half the size and has one representative. Now, all 6 districts will have two members each.

With a full 12-member body, districts must now be adjusted to equal as close to 48,541 people as possible. As a consequence, Downtown’s tiny district must now double in size, which will dramatically affect how other districts take in their population.

A few maps being offered have sparked interesting discussions, but the most contentious decision at play is the debate about what to do with Eagle River’s district.

The Eagle River problem

Right now, Eagle River is paired with Chugiak, all of JBER, Peter’s Creek, and the North Muldoon voting precinct containing the Tikahtnu Mall and roughly 3,000 residents south of the Glenn Highway. These communities make up the current District 2.

Current District 2
North Muldoon precinct included in current District 2 (population: 3,207)

Now, thanks to the new population targets, Eagle River’s district is overpopulated by 1,735 people — a deviation of 3.57% from the new target population. Thus, the district must now shrink in size or change shape in order to meet a more acceptable deviation.

Without including a portion of the Anchorage Bowl, Eagle River and its surrounding communities are not large enough to create their own district. Every reapportionment cycle for the past three decades has solved this problem by pairing District 2 with an area of Muldoon.

Time and time again, Eagle River — 77% white, median income of $112,912 per year — gets paired with one of the most diverse and economically disenfranchised communities in the country. The two aren’t socio-economically integrated as the Municipal Charter requires, and they don’t use or share similar services provided by the city (much of District 2 is located in a Limited Road Service Area). Only some communities located on JBER share schools with North Muldoon, but not Eagle River or Chugiak.

More importantly, the current area of North Muldoon paired with Eagle River only represents 6.7% of voting age persons in the district. Their voice is suffocated by the weight of Eagle River, which could explain why the precinct’s turnout for the last Assembly election in 2020 was just 11%. Every other community in District 2 turned out over 30% of its voters in the same election. In an Assembly race the same year, the average precinct in East’s district, where North Muldoon should be located, had an average turnout of 25%.

The current Assembly map disenfranchises the voters of Muldoon, and we ought not accept that simply because it’s easy to do. So, what do we do?

The reality of reapportionment

To achieve a fair deviation, Eagle River must get its population from somewhere. Eagle River Assemblywoman Jamie Allard’s preferred solution is to just leave North Muldoon or any other Anchorage areas out of the district and call it a day. That would leave District 2 underpopulated by 1,472 people, a deviation of -3%.

As easy as that would be, it violates the principle of one person, one vote. Equally populated districts make sure all districts have the same voting power, whereas a severely underpopulated district gives Eagle River more voting power over other districts in the Anchorage municipality. That may be easy, but it is by no means fair.

Since Eagle River’s surrounding communities are too small for a district, the current District 2 needs Anchorage population. Given the demands deviation places on the map drawing process, we must make a difficult choice: what community is most fair to pair Eagle River with? It is not, as it has been for years, communities in Muldoon who have been disenfranchised by their lopsided Assembly district. There is no good reason Muldoon should suffer the consequences each and every time at the expense of their democratic representation.

Rather, the only other contiguous options are Downtown south of the Government Hill access gate — an option that is off the table for the same reasons as Muldoon — or part of the Hillside located in South Anchorage. Hillside is far and away the superior candidate for pairing with Eagle River.

You must be thinking: what does Hillside have to do with Eagle River? Quite frankly, it has a lot more to do with them than Muldoon does. Like Eagle River, Hillside is quite rural with large lots. Hillside contains mostly Limited Road Service Areas that use well and septic. Both communities are predominantly white and wealthy, with social subcultures that distinguish themselves from the Anchorage Bowl.

Don’t take it from me — take it from Eagle River Assemblywoman Jamie Allard and South Assemblyman John Weddleton. During an Assembly meeting on August 24th, the two discussed just how similar and connected the two communities are:

The Anchorage Municipal Charter § 4.01 states : “Election districts, if established, shall be formed of compact and contiguous territory
containing as nearly as practicable a relatively integrated socioeconomic area.”

Relative is the operative word in the Charter. Obviously, Hillside is more integrated to other areas in South Anchorage than Eagle River. Understandably, people from Hillside want to be paired with them instead.

But the reality of reapportionment and the problem with the makeup and geography of Eagle River’s district forces a portion of the Anchorage Bowl to be grouped with them. That means we must choose a comparatively similar community to pair them with. To support this, I refer you to Assembly Counsel Dean Gates, who drafted a memo on the legal criteria for reapportionment of election district boundaries. His memo draws upon decades of state and municipal court precedence on the legal standards for reapportionment.

The Charter language is “relatively integrated” areas. This is not to compare all proposed districts with a hypothetical completely unintegrated area, as if a district including both Quinhagak and Los Angeles had been proposed. “Relatively” means that proposed districts are compared to other previously existing and proposed districts as well as principal alternative districts to determine if socio-economic links are sufficient.

Page 5 of Dean Gate’s memo on reapportionment criteria

This is incredibly important, because it reinforces the impossibility of drawing districts that satisfy each and every community group in Anchorage. We are making decisions based on what possibilities are available to us. Those possibilities are limited by the math of reapportionment. In other words, when communities of interest are in conflict over reapportionment, we must default to the lesser of the evils present. In this case, that lesser evil is pairing Eagle River with a community that is more like Hillside than Muldoon.

As of right now, there are four remaining maps being considered to forward to the Assembly for consideration. Only one of the four — which happens to have been drawn by me — adds a portion of Anchorage to Eagle River’s district to ensure one person, one vote. The accusations of gerrymandering Hillside out of South Anchorage are not taken lightly, but it must pointed out that nobody seems to care that the current districts have done to Muldoon what I am proposing we do to Hillside.

Put simply: it is somebody’s turn to be paired with Eagle River. Will we wash out the voices of Muldoon just like we have time and time again? Or, will do what is right and bring some semblance of parity to our Assembly districts? I implore the Anchorage Assembly to choose fairness over convenience.

How Homer’s House District changes under the new map

A less friendly district and an unpopular incumbent governor give non-Republicans a narrow opening to unseat incumbent Sarah Vance (R – Homer).

Over the years, the entire Kenai Peninsula Borough has typically been divided into a (1) South Kenai district based out of Homer, a Soldotna-Kenai district, and an Upper Kenai seat that stretches all the way up to the tip of Turnagain Arm. Sometimes Seward or the Kachemak Bay get thrown into the district as well.

During the latest redistricting process, the Alaska Redistricting Board drew some controversial drafts of this district. Early versions surgically removed most of Fritz Creek, which makes up about a fifth of the greater Homer area just 10-15 minutes outside of town. The maps joined Fritz Creek with Kodiak’s district, which is 140 miles away by water.

A prior draft cutout of Fritz Creek from the South Kenai district and into the Kodiak district (view in detail here)

The Fritz Creek cutout received criticism from local residents during the Board’s stop in Homer during their series of town halls. Thankfully, the final map opted to keep Fritz Creek with Homer. So, what changes were made to the district?

The old HD-31

From 2013-2020, South Kenai’s district stretched from Homer and ran all the way up through Kasilof, stopping just before the bridge over the Kenai River into Soldotna.

Below, you can see which areas contained more voters:

Area Voting-Age Persons (VAP) Share of District
Homer7,32946.50%
Anchor Point1,95112.30%
Ninilchik1,2788.11%
Kasilof/Funny River2,90427.40%
Fox River8625.47%
Total15,751

The old HD-31 has been solidly Republican due to the dominance of voters from Kasilof/Funny River and Anchor Point. Kasilof is a recreational sporting and fishing hotspot just outside of the ultra-conservative Soldotna, which has many commercial fishing and oil workers.

Anchor Point is just 20 minutes north of Homer, but it’s similar to Eagle River’s relationship to Anchorage. Many Anchor Point residents work and send their kids to school in Homer, but dislike the political and social culture enough to want to live just outside. All of this is to say: there is a distinct political subculture in Anchor Point compared to Homer.

At the state level, the old House District 31 voted relatively moderately. It broke against the incumbent Republican Governor Sean Parnell in 2014 and instead chose the unity ticket of Bill Walker (I) and Byron Mallot (D) by just+5%. In the Legislature, the seat was held by Rep. Paul Seaton, a moderate Republican who had represented the South Kenai seat since 2002. In 2016, Seaton formed a small alliance of other moderate Republican legislators in the House to join Democrats and Independents in forming a multi-partisan Majority Coalition. He strongly supported an income tax and was persuadable on many social issues such as sex education. He was also in favor of reforming oil tax credits to make companies pay more.

However, the district took a sharp turn in 2018 when it kicked out Seaton in a landslide. Sarah Vance, who was heavily involved in an unsuccessful political recall of Homer City Council members in 2017, beat Seaton by a whopping +10%. Seaton lost support among Republicans for a variety of reasons, but chief among them were likely his push for an income tax and his choice to run as a non-partisan under the Democratic primary in 2020 rather than facing a Republican challenger.

The new HD-6

South Kenai’s new district is similar, but now includes the communities along the Kachemak Bay. Reachable only by boat, they include Seldovia Village and Halibut Cove, both familiar to Homer residents who have travelled across the Bay on the Rainbow Connection or the Danny J. The Bay was previously in a district with Kodiak and Yakutat, and now joins a far more socioeconomically connected district.

However, the Native communities of Nanwalek and Port Graham are left out of the district with the Bay and kept with other Native communities in the Dillingham-Bristol Bay-Aleutians district.

Additionally, most of Funny River — about 1,400 voting-age people — have left South Kenai’s district and have been absorbed by the greater Upper Kenai district. Here’s the new makeup of the South Kenai district:

Area Voting-Age Persons (VAP) Share of District
Kachemak Bay4342.94%
Homer7,32949.66%
Anchor Point1,95112.30%
Ninilchik1,2788.66%
Kasilof/Funny River2,90419.68%
Fox River8625.84%
Total15,751

Homer voters now represent3.16%more of the district, while Kasilof/Funny River voters make up7.72%less. Anchor Point now makes up about1%more. As a result, the overall district now leans less conservative.

For instance, the new HD-6 voted for Trump by+12%, a shift to Democrats of about+3.5%from the old HD-31.

What does this mean for Rep. Sarah Vance’s re-election chances?

Beating Paul Seaton in 2018 was a big upset, but it’s worth noting just how circumstantial the victory was. Seaton represented Homer for 16 years and has held his position on the statewide income tax for quite some time now. What changed?

As the state’s fiscal crisis unfolded, former Governor Bill Walker vetoed half of the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) in 2016 to help fill the massive $4 billion state budget gap. After elections that same November, the House Majority Coalition was formed and has cut a portion of the PFD every year since. This pretext is what allowed for former State Senator Mike Dunleavy to run his entire campaign on paying out a huge Dividend to disgruntled voters. Candidates like Sarah Vance rode the coattails of this backlash in 2018 against the multi-partisan governing coalition, a regression that continued into 2020 as several more moderate Republicans were successfully primaried by pro-Dunleavy conservatives. The current coalition holds onto its majority 21-19, with just one vote to spare. There used to be as many as 25 members of the coalition.

In 2020, Vance won again by 2 points less than in 2018. Now, she faces re-election in a district that has over hundreds fewer hard-right conservative voters to rely on. At the same time, Dunleavy is running for re-election as an unpopular incumbent, which could Republican enthusiasm and thus turnout. The entire reason Vance got elected could be the reason she loses it this time.

However, the district is stillLean Republican. Since Homer is only about 60-40 Democratic, its just not enough to carry the entire district. The best chance to unseat Vance is a less radical Republican or Independent candidate like Kelly Cooper, who challenged Vance in 2020 and is expected to file for a re-match. Working against her challenger is a national midterm environment that usually punishes the party in the White House during off-year elections. This could harm turnout of moderate and liberal voters Cooper would need to beat Vance.

The question is whether Dunleavy’s unpopularity will sink Republican turnout enough to drag his House Minority allies down with him. Even if Dunleavy still wins re-election, doing so by only 1-4 points instead of 8 could spoil a few close races.