Senior legislators easily win races

Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2002

ANCHORAGE - U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, who brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds for Alaska projects during the past three decades, won Tuesday's Republican primary.

Another senior legislator, U.S. Rep. Don Young, ran unopposed on the Republican ticket.

Stevens, who has represented Alaska in the Senate since 1968, was winning by an overwhelming margin over all candidates for Senate. With nearly 90 percent of Alaska's 446 precincts reporting, Stevens was sailing with nearly 89 percent of the Republican vote.

His only Republican opponent was Mike Aubrey, a 50-year-old unemployed Sutton man who previously worked for Chickaloon Health Service.

Of the two Democrats running, the top vote-getter was Frank J. Vondersaar of Homer, with about 67 percent of the vote. Fellow Democrat Theresa Obermeyer, a former Anchorage school board member, trailed far behind with 33 percent.

Obermeyer, who spent time in prison after a 1995 altercation in the Anchorage federal building, ran against Stevens in 1996 after beating Vondersaar in the primary.

On the November ballot with Stevens and Vondersaar are Alaskan Independence candidate Jim Dore of Anchorage, Libertarian candidate Leonard "Len" Karpinski of Anchorage and Green Party winner Jim Sykes, who helped found the party in 1990. Sykes won a friendly Green Party primary contest against Thomas Higgins.

In the House race, Young won an unchallenged bid for a 16th term in office.

Winning the Democratic nomination for the state's only seat in Congress was Clifford Mark Greene of Juneau, with about 65 percent of the vote over Fairbanks resident Dae Miles.

Greene said he is working to raise funds to take his campaign on the road and plans to visit Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kotzebue and the Aleutian Islands. He said he would use his campaign to encourage the United States to cooperate with other nations in treaties of global importance.

"I'm representing the will of the people who do not want our country to take a unilateralist approach to international problems but want all countries to solve problems together - problems like global warming and nuclear weapons," Greene said.

Green Party candidate Russell F. deForest and Libertarian Rob Clift ran unopposed in their parties' U.S. House primaries.

In a year with no serious challengers, Stevens ran a fairly low-profile campaign, except for a couple television ads, a few radio ads and direct mailers. One of his ads skirted his candidacy altogether and simply urged people to vote as a message against terrorism.

Stevens, who has said he expects to spend $1.5 million on the 2002 campaign, said Tuesday night he wasn't surprised by the heavy support from voters.

"The results are just what we expected with just one opponent," Stevens said.

Young, who was in Fort Yukon on Tuesday and unavailable for comment, raised $1.3 million for his re-election bid, according to campaign staffers. For the primary, his campaign focused on radio ads reminding people to vote and introducing himself to new Alaskans.

Young plans a more active run for the general election, said campaign manager Steve Dougherty.

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