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Results in legislative races point to changes

Pat Forgey

Update: Here are the latest -- and in most cases, final -- results for the races below.

JUNEAU -- At least one Alaska legislator is losing their seat in Tuesday's primary election, but others may be in danger as well.

And two sitting members of the state House of Representatives have taken their first steps to becoming senators.

Two-term Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, is holding a lead over first-term Rep. Doug Isaacson, also of North Pole, for the House District 3 seat.

It's wasn't a surprise that one of North Pole's two Republican House members would lose; it was a foregone conclusion after Isaacson and Wilson were redistricted into the same heavily Republican district.

An optimistic Wilson, watching her lead hold during partial results, said hard work was paying off.

"I've been campaigning since 24 hours after I got out of session," she said. "It just shows that the door-to-door, the personal touch, really makes a difference."

The good news for the winner of the intra-party North Pole race is that Republicans outnumber Democrats 5-1 in House District 3. Democrat Sharron Hunter was unopposed in her primary.

In other Fairbanks area races, Gregory Bringhurst is outdistancing Jomo Stewart to win the the Republican primary and the right to challenge incumbent Democrat Rep. Scott Kawasaki in downtown's House District 1.

In House District 2, Democrat Larry Murakami is leading Uriah Nalikak to win the right to take on the uphill battle against Republican Steve Thompson, who was unopposed.

And in the race for an open House District 6 seat, former Denali Borough Mayor Dave Talerico of Healy is winning the nomination over newcomer Tad Dunning of Tok. He'll face Democrat Wilson Justin of Slana, who ran unopposed.

Rep. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, fended off a Republican primary challenge from DeLena Johnson to take the nomination for Senate District F. He'll face Democrat Patricia Chesbro in the heavily Republican district.

In the big-spending race to fill the House seat Stoltze is vacating, Republican Cathy Tilton is leading Republican Ron Arvin.

Also hoping to become a senator is Republican Rep. Mia Costello, of Sand Lake-Turnagain House District 22, running unopposed in the primary. Republicans Liz Vazquez and Sherri Jackson are neck and neck in their primary battle to replace her. Democrat Matt Claman is unopposed.

Incumbent Rep. Eric Feige, facing two tough challengers, was placing third in the three way race late in the evening. Mat-Su Borough Assembly member Jim Colver was holding a solid lead with 10 of 11 precincts counted, followed by George Rauscher.

There's a Democrat in the race, but House District 9, stretching from the Richardson Highway all the way to Valdez, is one of the most Republican in the state.

In West Anchorage's  House District 21, now represented by Democrat-turned-Republican Lindsey Holmes, Republican Anand Dubey is holding a solid lead over Republican Matt Fagnani.

In Kodiak, Republican Carol Austerman is trying to take the first step in following her father, current Rep. Alan Austerman, but is currently trailing fellow Republican Louise Stutes for the Republican nomination. Third at this point in the Republican primary is Rich Walker. The eventual nominee will face unopposed Democrat Jerry McCune in the contest for House District 32.

In Southeast's Ketchikan-dominated House District 36, retiring Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, will be replaced by a Ketchikan woman. Wilson legislative aide Chere Klein initially held a strong lead over Agnes Moran and Patti Mackey but with only a small proportion of votes counted.

In House District 40, Rep. Ben Nageak of Barrow was trying to ward off a challenge from fellow Democrat Dean Westlake of Kotzebue. With nearly half of the precincts counted, Nageak was drawing about three votes for every one that went to Westlake, an official with NANA Corp. But as of midnight, Kotzebue’s precincts weren’t yet in.

“That’s the way it is in rural Alaska,” Westlake said, settling in for a long night. He said he knew it would be a hard fight to challenge an incumbent. “You’re taking on a king, basically.”

Nageak, a member of the GOP-led majority caucus seeking a second term, said he had friends and supporters throughout the Arctic district.

“I’ve been involved in politics for a very long time,” he said. “I’m not new at this.”