Local Democrats in the Baranof Hotel cheered Tuesday night when major news organizations projected President Barack Obama had won reelection. Shortly before 9 p.m., before Alaska’s votes even showed up on the state website and in the national count, they heard GOP candidate Mitt Romney congratulate Obama on his win and wish him luck during his next term in the White House.
President Barack Obama took the stage to accept his second term as president a little more than two hours after CNN announced his win. At 7:18 p.m. Obama had won more than 272 electoral votes he needed to earn another four years in the oval office.
By 9:15 p.m. the Romney backers meeting at the Baranof Hotel had mostly disbursed. Obama’s supporters hung out by televisions in the hotel bar and in an Obama gathering near the front desk.
Newly elected Assembly Member Loren Jones said watching an election is more stressful than running for office.
“This is a little more nerve wracking,” Jones said. “I’ve only got one vote and I’m not campaigning. Just stand and watch.”
Jones said he watched the national race from home and came down to the Baranof conference room to watch the state results roll in.
LaRae Vons lives in Juneau and came down to the Baranof to hear Obama’s acceptance speech. “I am a Barack fan,” Vons said. “He’s for the people. There is no way I can think about the other guy.”
Grace Snider said she is traveling from Willow for a brain institute meeting, is staying at the Baranof, and saw the Obama gathering and stopped by.
“It seemed like a good place to be,” Snider said. “I’m glad to be in good company.”
Snider said she had voted absentee before her trip. She wore an Obama shirt and said she’d voted for the incumbent.
Statewide she said she would like to see a change from Rep. Don Young, but she said she doubted that would happen. The tallies would prove her right.
Once the national chapter in the election was over, Alaska voters still had other issues to decide, including who would represent the state in the U.S. Congress. Young won his 21st term, weighing in shortly before 11 p.m. with a 64 percent lead over Sharon Cissna’s 22.8 percent with almost 27 percent of precincts counted. Young climbed to 63 percent with half the voted counted.
U.S. Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski were quick to weigh in on the presidential race.
“I look forward to continuing to build on the important progress we have made not only on Arctic development, but on other critical Alaska issues like supporting our veterans, balancing the budget, permitting mines and improving education,” said Begich, who is a Democrat. “I am also happy to see that voters have sent common-sense moderates from across the country to join me in the Senate. Not only do we share common ground on policies, but we have a like-minded approach of reaching across party lines, rolling up our sleeves, and looking for solutions. Tonight’s results also sent a clear message to those who want to overrun our elections with unlimited secret money and divisive politics. I am hopeful the newly elected group of senators and representatives will join me in pushing for a bipartisan, balanced and swift approach to cutting our federal deficit.”
Murkowski, a Republican, congratulated Obama as well.
“While the presidential race was hard fought on both sides, I think this election process has demonstrated that Americans want us to work together to solve the difficult problems facing our nation,” Murkowski said. “In his second term, I am hopeful that President Obama will see the value of pragmatism over partisanship. Both parties created the challenges we face today, and the solutions can only be found through collaborative efforts - good ideas don’t come with a party label. I encourage President Obama and his administration to work with Congress, represent all of America and make a better tomorrow for our nation.”
Shortly after 9 p.m., results from Alaska’s statewide races trickled in.
Alaska voters in early numbers chose the Romney/Ryan ticket over Obama/Biden, leading by about 56 percent to 39 percent with 63 percent of the vote counted.
State Sen. Hollis French was in a tight race with Republican challenger Bob Bell, trailing by just over two percentage points with about half the precincts counted. French, a Democrat, is part of a bipartisan coalition targeted by some Republican leaders and is an outspoken critic of Gov. Sean Parnell’s oil tax reduction strategy. Bell led by five points with more than 70 percent of precincts counted.
Redistricting forced an election in Senate District Q between incumbents Bert Stedman and Albert Kookesh. With 44 percent of the vote in, Stedman had 50,14 percent and Kookesh 49.64 percent but the tide turned quickly against Kookesh and with 88 percent of precincts in Stedman held more than 65 percent of the vote.
In Anchorage’s Senate District M, a similar situation pitted Anna Fairclough against Bettye Davis, but with almost half the vote counted Davis trailed Fairclough by a large margin, Fairclough gaining 58 percent of the vote by 10:17 p.m.
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