Two candidates for the Anchorage School District School dropped out of the race ahead of the April 5 election, in an effort to garner votes behind other like-minded candidates – and as two self-described conservative candidates try to oust two incumbent board members.
Candidates Mark Anthony Cox and Rachel Reese, both backed by local conservative groups, face off against school council president Margo Blamey and incumbent Kelly Lance.
Last week, a third Conservative candidate, Cliff Murray, announced his resignation from the race for seat A in a video posted on his campaign page last week, urging Anchorage voters to support candidate Mark Anthony Cox instead. Cox, who also appeared in the video, said Murray’s withdrawal would help avoid a “split in the vote” of the Conservatives.
“What we do not want to happen is that some people will vote for me and some people will vote for Mark and that none of us will win in the end,” Murray said.
Similarly, Benjamin Baldwin, a candidate for seat B, threw away his support behind Lesance’s campaign and retired from the race earlier this month. At the time, he said in an interview that Lance shares similar values and that he did not want to take the support from her campaign because she has a better chance of winning.
“I believe she has the best chance of advancing our shared ideals in this election. I’m excited to see Kelly continue to serve in Anchorage School Board B,” Baldwin said in a statement posted on Les’ Facebook page.
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Although Murray and Baldwin have announced a withdrawal, voters will still see the candidates at their polls because they did not retire before the February deadline.
Candidate Dan Loring is also running against Brake and Cox, while longtime candidate Dustin Darden is also running for seat B against Reese and Lance.
Anchorage School Board seats are not technically partisan, meaning candidates are not running as part of a political party. Still, even local political organizations are throwing their weight behind candidates.
The Anchorage Democrats supported the two incumbents, along with a number of labor unions, including the Anchorage Education Association and the Alaska AFL-CIO.
Cox and Reese also have Republican support from groups like the Anchorage Young Republicans and the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club. They also won the support of Alaska Family Action, a conservative political action group.
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Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson has contributed to the campaigns of both Reese and Cox.
Candidates for the school administration supported by the Conservatives banded together for the campaign, and hosted several joint events, including alongside the board of candidates for the contestants running to oust four of the incumbent senior members of the assembly.
Ries and Cox recently launched a joint campaign headquarters with Candidates for the Assembly Kathy Hensley, Randy Solta, Stephanie Taylor and Liz Vasquez.
Bronson supports those conservative candidates in office as he seeks to extract more control of the city government from the liberal majority of the assembly, which he has confronted on several hot issues since taking office.
Brake and Sense also supported each other’s campaigns, and held a joint fundraiser earlier this month.
School council members have so far raised their contestants by tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations, according to the latest reports submitted to the state.
As of March 4, Blamey had nearly $ 68,900, while Cox had $ 12,550. Lessens had more than $ 89,300 as of March 4, while Reese raised nearly $ 49,400 as of March 26. Dan Loring did not report any revenue from the campaign.
The Alaska First Committee puts out thousands to keep those in office. The committee is an independent spending group headed by Joel Hall, president of the Alaska AFL-CIO. (Independent spend is used by groups or individuals separate from campaigns to support a campaign without direct donation).
He spent $ 6,000 each on radio ads for Bellamy and Lessens. Alaska March On also spent more than $ 2,500 to support their campaigns.
To date, no such direct expenditures have been reported with the state to support Cox or Reese. However, Alaska Family Action has spent nearly $ 1,500 on support leaflets and site changes to support Cox, its Ries, and the conservative board of candidates.