1998 Alaska gubernatorial election

← 1994 November 3, 1998 2002 →
Nominee Tony Knowles Robin L. Taylor
Party Democratic Write-in
Running mate Fran Ulmer
Popular vote 112,879 40,209
Percentage 51.3% 18.3%

Nominee John H. Lindauer Ray Metcalfe
Party Republican Republican Moderate
Running mate Jerry Ward Clyde Baxley
Popular vote 39,331 13,540
Percentage 17.9% 6.1%

Governor before election

Tony Knowles

Elected Governor

Tony Knowles

The 1998 Alaska gubernatorial general election took place on November 3, 1998. The election resulted in a landslide for the Democratic incumbent, Tony Knowles, who had won the 1994 gubernatorial election by only 536 votes.[1][2] Knowles was the first incumbent governor to attain re-election since 1978.[3] As of 2022, this was the last time a Democrat was elected Governor of Alaska and also the last time an Alaskan governor won a second full term.


Incumbent Democratic governor Tony Knowles was up for re-election. On the Republican side, three major candidates jockeyed for the nomination: businessman John Howard Lindauer, state senator Robin L. Taylor, and Wayne A. Ross. Lindauer won the open primary election, with Taylor coming in second. Jim Sykes, founder of the Green Party of Alaska, ran on that party's ticket, but Desa Jacobsson later replaced him on the ballot. Ray Metcalfe, a defecting Republican who had founded the Republican Moderate Party of Alaska, also ran.


Lindauer's campaign faltered late into the race as a result of his failure to disclose that his wife, a wealthy Chicago lawyer, had financed the bulk of his campaign.[3] As a result of this revelation, the Republicans withdrew their support of Lindauer[2] and backed Robin Taylor, the runner-up of the Republican primary, as a write-in candidate. Due to the lateness of this change, the Republicans unsuccessfully attempted to obtain a court order to delay the election.[4] The collapse of Lindauer's campaign resulted in a three-way split of the Republican vote between him, Taylor, and the Republican Moderate Metcalfe.

Knowles defeated Taylor, his closest opponent, by 33%, the widest margin of victory for a gubernatorial candidate in Alaska history. Moreover, if Taylor's and Lindauer's totals are added together, Knowles defeated the two Republicans combined by 16% – still the widest margin in Alaska history until 2010. This was also the first time since 1970 that any candidate won an outright majority of the vote in an Alaska gubernatorial election.


Republican primary

1998 Republican primary for Alaska governor[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Howard Lindauer 25,070 41.65
Republican Robin Taylor 17,679 29.37
Republican Wayne Ross 17,445 28.98
Total votes 60,194 100.00

General election

1998 Alaska gubernatorial election[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Tony Knowles (incumbent) 112,879 51.27 +10.2
Write-in Robin L. Taylor 40,209 18.26 +18.2
Republican John Howard Lindauer 39,331 17.86 -22.9
Republican Moderate Ray Metcalfe 13,540 6.15 N/A
Green Desa Jacobsson 6,618 3.01 -1.1
Independence Sylvia Sullivan 4,238 1.92 -11.8
Write-in Others 3,362 1.53 +1.4
Majority 72,670 33.01 +32.7
Turnout 220,177 48.57 -14.9
Democratic hold Swing +32.7


  1. ^ http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1998/08/17/ap/alaska/index.html?eref=sitesearch[dead link]
  2. ^ a b Pear, Robert (1998-11-04). "THE 1998 ELECTIONS: STATE BY STATE -- WEST; ALASKA". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b "Knowles wins rare 2nd term in Alaska - November 3, 1998". 13 February 2007. Archived from the original on 13 February 2007.
  4. ^ "Alaska GOP wants election delayed - October 30, 1998". 16 May 2006. Archived from the original on 16 May 2006.
  5. ^ "1998 PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS". Alaska Division of Elections. Archived from the original on 14 May 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  6. ^ "Election Summary Report: State of Alaska 1998 General Election Official Results". Archived from the original on 2008-11-27.