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Alaska: Young to Face Uphill Battle With Berkowitz

With just a couple hundred votes left to be counted, it appears embattled Rep. Don Young (R) has won the Aug. 26 GOP primary against Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (R). As of Monday evening, Young lead Parnell by 239 votes.

According to Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai, there are 237 overseas ballots that will be counted later this week, plus eight questionable ballots in route to the office. To win the primary, Parnell would have to capture all but five of the 245 remaining ballots.

Young widened his lead from 151 votes on Friday after election officials counted thousands of absentee and provisional ballots. After the results are certified on Sept. 18, a state-sponsored recount is possible if the final winning margin is less than half of a percentage point and either candidate or 10 voters request it.

Young Spokesman Mike Anderson said the campaign was waiting until all of the votes were counted Thursday, but he added that they were “optimistic” about the pending results.

Meanwhile, Young is poised to have an uphill battle against former state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz (D) this fall, according to an independent Ivan Moore Research poll sponsored by local news outlets.

Berkowitz led Young, 54 percent to 37 percent, in the poll that questioned 500 likely voters from Aug. 30-Sept. 2 and had a margin of error of 4.4 points. A similar survey from Aug. 9-12 showed Berkowitz with an even smaller lead over Young, 51 percent to 41 percent.

Palin Pick Buoys Stevens’ Re-election

Sen. Ted Stevens (R) appears to be bouncing back into a competitive race with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D), according to recent poll data that showed the longtime Senator either ahead of or within the margin of error against his opponent. It’s a boost that his campaign attributed in part to popular Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin being named to the GOP’s presidential ticket.

Stevens led Begich 46 percent to 44 percent in a Moore Information poll paid for by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The survey questioned 500 registered voters Sept. 2-3 — a few days after White House nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) named Palin as his running mate.

In a campaign memo to supporters, strategist David Carney praised the enthusiasm that he witnessed from Alaskans during the past two months, after the Department of Justice announced it had indicted Stevens. Alaska’s senior Senator is scheduled to begin trial later this month for allegedly lying on his financial disclosure forms.

“Even before the announcement of Gov. Palin as the Vice Presidential nominee, the campaign was energized, focused and raring to go, but now it has gone through the roof,” Carney wrote in the memo.

Meanwhile, an independent survey by pollster Ivan Moore for state media outlets showed Stevens trailing Begich by about 3 points. Begich led Stevens, 49 percent to 46 percent, with 3 percent undecided. The poll surveyed 500 likely voters Aug. 30-Sept. 2 and had a margin of error of 4.4 points.

In an Aug. 9-12 Ivan Moore poll with the same sample size, Begich led Stevens, 56 percent to 39 percent, with 3 percent undecided.

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