Republicans maintain control of state House

ldemer@adn.comNovember 7, 2012 

In the fight for the state House of Representatives, voters were making choices that will maintain Republican control.

With most of the vote in on Tuesday night, Republicans were edging out Democrats in more than half the 26 districts with contested races.

But a few races could flip the other way. A young Democrat from Sitka who has never run for office was making a strong run against one of the Legislature's most powerful members, Bill Thomas, who co-chairs the House Finance Committee.

While all 40 House members were up for re-election this year, 10 Republicans and four Democrats ran unopposed in Tuesday's general election. A number of other sitting legislators faced only nominal opposition. Currently in the House, 22 Republicans and four Bush Democrats make up the GOP-run majority.

Thirty of the 40 House districts count more Republican registered voters than Democrats.

Still, in every district, nonaffiliated voters and those who don't want to declare a party outnumber the partisans.

At least four other incumbents from around the state were destined to lose their jobs in the Legislature. New district boundaries put them in the same district as another legislator. Republicans were winning over the Democrats in three of those races, including an East Anchorage contest.

The result still will be a dramatically different House with a number of fresh faces in Juneau. Of eight open House seats, Republicans were leading or won in five. But Democrats won three of open House seats in Anchorage.

Some key races:



•With all precincts reporting in Muldoon's District 25, first-term Rep. Lance Pruitt, a Republican, had a 97-vote lead over Rep. Pete Petersen, a Democratic two-term incumbent. This was the biggest money House race this year, with Petersen raising more than $100,000 and Pruitt pulling in nearly $120,000.

• In the fight for an open seat in the university and Midtown area, new District 15, Democrat Andy Josephson, an attorney and son of former state Sen. Joe Josephson, was leading Anchorage Assembly member Dick Traini, a Republican. Josephson was the big spender here, with more than $71,000, including support from the Democratic Party, attorneys, and the liquor lobby, to Traini's $19,000, which came from unions, builders, developers, and the oil industry. The Republican establishment never got behind Traini, though.

• In District 16, which includes Spenard and Rogers Park, Anchorage Assemblywoman Harriet Drummond, a Democrat and former Anchorage School Board member, stomped Republican Jimmy Crawford, a fourth generation Alaskan. Democratic Rep. Berta Gardner gave up the seat, in a district with slightly more Democrats than Republicans, to run for state Senate.

• In Mountain View and Airport Heights, District 17, Democrat Geran Tarr won over Republican Cean Stevens with most of the precincts in. Tarr is a UAA instructor and former legislative aide. The seat opened up when Democratic Rep. Sharon Cissna made a run for Congress.

• Former state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, a Republican, was trouncing Democrat Kay Rollison with most of the precincts in for the open seat in District 13, a Republican-heavy area that includes the Air Force side of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and parts of Muldoon. LeDoux, a former Kodiak Island Borough mayor, amassed $108,000 in campaign contributions, far more than Rollison, a consultant who works for various interests including Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

• In Eagle River Valley's District 26, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 4-to-1, Lora Reinbold, the Republican candidate, beat Democrat Roberta Goughnour. Reinbold, who serves on her community council board as well as the local parks board, also won the fund-raising battle, with some $82,000 in contributions over Goughnour's $15,000.

• Elsewhere, Republican Reps. Mia Costello, Bob Lynn, Charisse Millett and Craig Johnson were out in front in their races, as were Democratic Reps. Max Gruenberg, Les Gara, Lindsey Holmes and Chris Tuck. Republicans Mike Hawker, whose district stretches to Girdwood, Dan Saddler of Eagle River and Bill Stoltze of Chugiak were unopposed.



• With all precincts counted, political newcomer Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, a Democrat, had a slim 44-vote lead over four-term Republican Rep. Bill Thomas in District 34, which includes Sitka, Haines, Hoonah and Angoon. But the race was too close to call.• In the new District 33, Republican Rep. Peggy Wilson of Wrangell defeated Ketchikan's Kyle Johansen, who ran as an independent. Johansen, once a rising Republican star, fell out with the House leadership two years ago. The Democrat in this heavily Republican district was Matt Olsen of Ketchikan.



• In one closely watched race, Democratic Rep. David Guttenberg of Fairbanks was ahead of Republican Rep. Alan Dick,a retired teacher from Nenana, but not enough votes were in to call a winner. The huge District 38 stretches from Ester and Goldstream to the Southwestern Alaska villages of Hooper Bay, Emmonak, and Chevak and also takes in Ruby, McGrath and Nenana. The wild card was independent candidate Dorothy Shockley, a former aide to Sen. Albert Kookesh.

• Also in the Fairbanks area, Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson of North Pole beat Democratic Rep. Bob Miller of Fairbanks in District 2. Republicans outnumber Democrats almost 3-to-1 in the district, which includes Farmers Loop and Two Rivers.

• The race for an open seat in heavily Republican North Pole, the new District 1, saw Republican Doug Isaacson beat Democrat Janice Golub, an officer in the Alaska Army National Guard.

• In District 5, which includes Chena Ridge and the university area of Fairbanks, Republican Pete Higgins, a dentist, won over Democrat David Watts, a retiree, for another open seat.

• Elsewhere in Fairbanks, Rep. Scott Kawasaki, a Democrat, was holding off a challenge by real estate broker David Pruhs, a Republican who outraised the incumbent $104,000 to $72,000.



• In greater Wasilla, where District 9 offered opportunity with an open seat, Republican Lynn Gattis, a hay farmer and landlord, beat Democrat Blake Merrifield with all precincts counted. Gattis outraised him by nearly 2-to-1.

Elsewhere, Republican Reps. Eric Feige of Chickaloon, Mark Neuman of Wasilla, and Paul Seaton of Homer were fending off challenges, as was Democrat Bryce Edgmon of Dillingman. But many votes were still out in Edgmon's contest. Republican Reps. Wes Keller of Wasilla, Shelley Hughes of Palmer, Mike Chenault of Nikiski, and Kurt Olson of Soldotna were unopposed. So were Democratic Reps. Bob Herron of Bethel and Neal Foster of Nome. Democrat Bennie Nageak of Barrow also faced no GOP opposition.



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