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Buchanan Tops Alaska Straw Poll

January 30, 1996

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Pat Buchanan outlasted Steve Forbes for a narrow victory in Alaska’s Republican straw poll, while Bob Dole received barely half as many votes as the winner.

Buchanan received 33 percent of the total, or 2,988 votes. Forbes was 168 votes back with 2,818 votes _ or 31 percent. Dole got just 17 percent, or 1,565 votes.

``It’s startling. This is just a phenomenal victory,″ Buchanan said in a telephone interview from Davenport, Iowa, after the results of the Saturday-to-Monday balloting were determined early today. ``What it shows is Pat Buchanan is the conservative who can beat Bob Dole and can defeat the multi-million-dollar campaign of Steve Forbes, with energy, issues and ideas. This is going to provide us with tremendous momentum.″

Party leaders terminated the straw poll at midnight Alaska time with votes from 38 of Alaska’s 40 districts counted. Two districts, one covering Northwest Alaska and the North Slope, and the other in Southwest Alaska, did not report results. Party leaders estimated that they represented fewer than a hundred votes altogether.

Among the trailing candidates, Alan Keyes received 10 percent of the votes and Phil Gramm 9 percent. Keyes had 901 votes to 786 for Gramm. Lamar Alexander had 53 votes or 1 percent.

Other candidates had less than 1 percent of the 9,172 votes.

While Alaska’s vote is a tiny fraction of the national total, the early straw poll engineered by Anchorage radio commentator Fritz Pettyjohn drew attention _ and several candidates _ to the state.

Forbes, Buchanan, Gramm and Keyes all made personal stops and the candidates spent thousands of dollars on Alaska advertising.

Forbes has been a frequent visitor to Alaska on the lecture circuit for more than 15 years. He’s addressed pro-development groups on economic issues _ and he floated his flat-tax proposal at a speech in Anchorage a few weeks before announcing his candidacy.

Buchanan and Keyes both visited the state twice in recent months.

Dole didn’t make the trip to Alaska, but sent his wife Elizabeth. Gramm and his wife, Wendy, each made a campaign stop in Alaska.

The last time Alaska hosted presidential candidates was in 1979 when Ronald Reagan visited.

Portia Babcock, the Forbes campaign manager for Alaska, said the balloting was ``a major wake-up call for Bob Dole.″

Alaska will have 19 of the 1,990 delegates at the Republican’s National Convention in August and three of the 538 electoral votes.