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Dunleavy, Begich win party nods in 3-way race for Alaska governor

Alaska's gubernatorial election will be a three-way race between Gov. Bill Walker (I), former Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R).

Dunleavy won the state's Republican gubernatorial primary after garnering 62 percent of the vote with 95 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. Begich, also previously the former mayor of Anchorage, clinched the Democratic nomination after running virtually unopposed.

Walker initially planned to seek the Democratic nomination as he sought to run for a second term as governor. But after Begich entered the race in June, Walker opted instead to remain an independent candidate for his reelection bid.

Dunleavy, who served in the state Senate from 2013 until 2017, has campaigned on a "make Alaska safe again" message - a phrase that harkens to President Trump's call to "make America great again."

The three-way general election could carve out a path to victory for Dunleavy.

A poll conducted in June by the Alaska Correctional Officers Association (ACOA), just weeks after Begich entered the race, showed Dunleavy leading with 38 percent of the vote, while Begich and Walker took second and third, with 33 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

Walker, a political centrist who expanded Medicaid in Alaska, is among the least popular governors in the United States. A Morning Consult survey of the nations' governors in February pegged Walker's approval at just 29 percent - the lowest of any of the 19 governors running for reelection in 2018.

Alaska has been hit hard by a slump in crude oil prices, posing a big problem for a state whose revenues are largely dependent on oil production. That has forced Walker into cutting the dividend paid to Alaskans out of the state's oil fund, which hit his popularity, while the governor has also been blamed for the state's high unemployment and high crime levels.

Begich, who left the Senate in 2015, is viewed in a relatively positive light by Alaskans. The ACOA poll in June found that 49 percent of respondents had a positive impression of Begich, compared to 42 percent for Walker and 34 percent for Dunleavy.

But he risks splitting some of the votes with Walker, potentially handing the election to Dunleavy.

The Cook Political Report rates the Alaska governor's race as a "toss-up."

Meanwhile, in Alaska's Democratic House primary on Tuesday, independent Alyse Galvin won the nomination to challenge Rep. Don Young (R) for his seat.

Young, who also won his primary on Tuesday, has served in the House for 45 years and is expected to coast to another term in November.

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