For Justin Parish and Cathy Muñoz, the race for House District 34 ends today.
Election Day culminates a busy campaign for the underdog Democrat and the established Republican, each of whom spent a frenetic weekend knocking on doors and shaking hands.
Despite their differences, the two candidates began that busy weekend the same way — with breakfast.
“We’re coming in to a landing,” Muñoz told a supporter in a back room of Donna’s Restaurant.
Each weekend during the campaign’s final month, Muñoz volunteers fortified themselves with breakfast here before trudging out to knock on every residential door in the district. On this, the final weekend, campaign manager Matthew Gruening paid for 30 breakfasts before heading across Glacier Highway to the Rie Muñoz Gallery, where Muñoz has her campaign headquarters in a back room.
“It’s hectic. We’ve got a big day today,” Muñoz said.
On a paper map, Gruening used markers to outline routes for teams of volunteers. Each leaned over to get a closer look.
“It’s just a ‘lit drop’; you’re not knocking on doors,” he said, handing out Zip-loc bags filled with campaign literature bound for doorknobs and doorstops.
“We’re trying to hit the most dense areas,” he explained of his strategy.
One volunteer interrupted with a question — “Where’s my hat?” she asked.
Gruening, at a loss, explained that there weren’t any more to give out. After a pause, he then lifted his own hat and set it on her head.
She smiled. “I want souvenirs,” she said, grabbing a handful of campaign buttons before heading out the door.
A mile and a half away, Parish was enacting a similar scene in the community room of the Mendenhall Library. Where Muñoz’s volunteers fed themselves at Donna’s, Parish and campaign manager Steve SueWing provided boxes of fresh fruit and pastries.
Parish had fewer volunteers than Muñoz, but they were just as enthusiastic. In the library, Parish also attracted passers-by who were interested in the happenings. As he posed for pictures, SueWing looked on.
“Make sure it’s tilted to the left,” he joked while Parish held a campaign sign.
As Parish’s group left the library, he began talking to a man who said he supports Donald Trump for President.
Parish has said he supports Hillary Clinton, but made his case anyway.
“If we can just get a bunch of honest people in government, we’d do a lot better,” he told the man, who listened politely.
Parish explained that he might not be a billionaire, but like Trump, he’s spent a lot of his own money on his campaign.
“Running for office has pretty much bankrupted me,” he said.
He said his goal has been to make people understand that the Alaska Legislature needs to change.
“We agree, even people, very conservative people,” Parish said.
While Muñoz headed from her headquarters to knock on doors, Parish’s first stop was a Mendenhall Flying Lions fundraiser at McGivney’s to shake hands. After that, he intended to go door-to-door himself.
“People are super-nice,” he said of his experience. “We live in a polite town.”
Both candidates spent Sunday repeating their Saturday pattern, then on Monday joined sign-waving details in the Valley and at the edge of downtown.
Heavy, chilly rain and blowing wind didn’t keep a hardy handful of volunteers from joining the candidates.
“It’s not for the faint of heart,” Gruening said.
The same might be said for voters awaiting the result.