ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The runoff race for Anchorage mayor remains too close to call, with the two candidates separated by only about 100 votes and thousands of ballots still uncounted.
Preliminary election results posted Tuesday night showed Forrest Dunbar leading opponent Dave Bronson by a slim margin, garnering 50.08% of the votes tallied so far, Anchorage Daily News reported.
The election is on track for a record number of votes cast, with more than 72,000 ballots counted and at least 6,600 left as of Tuesday morning. An unknown amount of ballots cast in person on Tuesday, left in secure ballot boxes throughout the city or postmarked by election day, continue to arrive.
As more ballots arrive, it’s likely that turnout will eclipse the city’s last record in the 2018 race for mayor, which saw 79,295 ballots cast.
While technically nonpartisan, the mayoral race has been heated, fomenting partisan divisions among residents who disagree over how the city should move forward. The two candidates take starkly contrasting approaches to issues like the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the homelessness crisis and the city’s economy.
Bronson has criticized Anchorage’s public health measures and restrictions on businesses and targeted Dunbar over the city’s handling of homelessness. Meanwhile, Dunbar has largely supported the city’s pandemic policies, saying that without them, more people would have died from COVID-19.
If the race remains neck-and-neck, there will be an automatic recount. Municipal code requires a recount be conducted when a candidate wins by less than 0.5%. The candidates are currently separated by just 0.16%.