ANCHORAGE - Mead Treadwell has won the Republican nomination for Alaska lieutenant governor in his first campaign for elected office.
With 49 percent of Alaska's 438 precincts reporting, the Anchorage resident has collected more than 53 percent of the GOP vote in Tuesday's primary election.
His main GOP rival, state Rep. Jay Ramras of Fairbanks, followed with slightly more than 31 percent of the early vote.
Treadwill will join Gov. Sean Parnell in the Nov. 2 general election against the Democrats. Diane E. Benson of Chugiak has won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. At the top of the ticket with be either Ethan Berkowitz or Hollis French.
Libertarian Jeffrey D. Brown of Anchorage was running unopposed.
Treadwell, 54, in his first campaign for elected office, spent Tuesday phoning voters across the state, spoke on radio talk shows and stood on a busying street corner in Anchorage, speaking with people, including undecided voters on their way to the polls. Treadwell resigned as chairman of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission earlier this year to run for office.
"It was a great day," he said Tuesday evening. "I definitely feel like we got new support today."
Voter Beth Klein, an Anchorage Republican, was among the recent Treadwell converts.
"I had a conversation with some friends a couple weeks ago about it, and there were several people who were kind of talking him up and it sounded good," Klein said as she left after leaving the polls.
Ramras, 46, said he waved campaign signs Tuesday in Anchorage and Fairbanks.
"I was greatly at ease, sleep-deprived and enjoying lots of horn-honking and thumbs up," he said.
On Monday, the Alaska Public Offices Commission held a hearing for expedited consideration of a complaint alleging Ramras' ads for his Pike's Waterfront Lodge in Fairbanks improperly promoted him and his agenda. The panel denied a request to take fast action, saying it would investigate the matter as a normal complaint, which means a conclusion won't be reached until sometime after the primary.
Ramras said the complaint was a campaign smear job orchestrated by a Treadwell supporter.
"Alaskans have had enough of these false last-minute attacks on people's character," he said.
The complaint was filed by Anchorage resident Steve Flory, who has contributed to Treadwell.
In its decision, the commission noted the ads are no longer running and would not affect the election or cause irreparable harm that penalties could not address.
Anchorage voter Meg Halsey, 45, said she was turned off by the controversy stirred up over his business ads, chalking it up to "dirty tricks." She considers herself a friend of Ramras, though that's not the reason she voted for him, she said.
"Like him or don't, the guy's freaking sincere," she said.
Treadwell was initially endorsed by a conservative group over fellow GOP candidate Eddie Burke, who formerly hosted a conservative radio talk show. But the tea party-style Conservative Patriots Group, based in former Gov. Sarah Palin's hometown of Wasilla, withdrew its backing over Treadwell's past support for U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. The group backs Joe Miller, Murkowski's primary challenger.
Burke, 48, was running third among the four Republicans, collecting about 12 percent of the vote.
"Bottom line, whether I win or lose, I'm extremely proud of the work done," he said Monday. "We've done so well with so little."
Another Republican running is Bob Lupo of Eagle River.
Competing for the Democratic nomination were Benson, who waged two statewide campaigns in unsuccessful bids to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. Other Democrats on the ballot were Anchorage residents Lynette Moreno-Hinz and J.J. "Jack" Powers. Also running is Libertarian Jeffrey D. Brown of Anchorage.
Benson, 55, said she was feeling confident going into the primary but declined to predict victory.
"I'll leave it up to the voters," she said. "Instead of telling them who will win, they'll tell us."
Current Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who chose not to run, was appointed to replace then-Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who became governor when Palin resigned last summer.