Traini lead over Clary for Assembly seat drops to 147

Rosemary Shinohara

Former Anchorage Assemblyman Dick Traini's lead in the Midtown Assembly race narrowed further Thursday when some Midtown ballots mistakenly cast by voters in a downtown district were subtracted from the totals.

In the latest tally, Traini is ahead of conservative Andy Clary by 147 votes, at 2,862 to 2,715. Joshua Whittaker received 371 votes.

Traini led Clary by 248 votes at the end of election night Tuesday and that lead narrowed to 183 votes after election officials counted some absentee ballots Wednesday.

An unknown number of absentee ballots that are still out and 1,480 questioned ballots cast citywide will be counted April 16, said City Clerk Barbara Gruenstein.

Clary attended Gruenstein's briefing Thursday where the new totals were announced.

"The trend is moving the right way," he said.

Among others attending was Randy Ruedrich, Alaska Republican Party chairman.

The mistake that caused the new count announced Thursday involved Precinct 535 at the Anchorage Senior Center.

Voters in that precinct all live in the downtown Assembly district, not the Midtown district.

Because Precinct 535 includes a section of Midtown so small that no one actually lives there, the city sends Midtown ballots there, as well as downtown ballots, in case anyone from Midtown comes in wanting to vote a challenged ballot, Gruenstein said. The downtown Assembly seat was not on the ballot this year.

The precinct chairperson didn't open the box with the proper ballots in it, said Jacqueline Duke, deputy city clerk.

"The chairperson had done training and been a chairperson before," said Duke. "I don't know why she behaved in that manner."

Duke said the chairperson will not be working future elections.

Find Rosemary Shinohara online at or call her at 257-4340.