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Incumbents fare well in Anchorage legislative races

  • Author: Sean Doogan
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published November 5, 2014

Update, Nov. 5:

In two tight Anchorage legislative races, hundreds of ballots are still waiting to be counted, according to the Alaska Division of Elections.

In the East Anchorage matchup between GOP Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux and Democrat Laurie Hummel -- a retired Army colonel -- LeDoux has a 168-vote lead, but 589 early votes and absentee ballots already in hand remain to be counted, Gail Fenumiai, state elections director, said in an email. Plus absentee ballots can arrive through Nov. 19, the deadline for overseas ballots.

In the even closer race for the Turnagain-area open seat vacated by Democrat-turned-Republican Lindsey Holmes, Democrat Matt Claman leads Republican Anand Dubey by 35 votes -- with 330 early votes and absentee ballots already in hand and waiting to be counted, according to Fenumiai.

Original Story:

Anchorage's legislative races saw the likely ascension of Rep. Mia Costello to the state Senate while two political newcomers forced veteran politicians to sweat out the results late Tuesday night.

With all precincts reporting, Matt Claman, a Democrat who once served as Anchorage's interim mayor, leads Republican Anand Dubey by 35 votes in House District 21. Meanwhile incumbent Gabrielle LeDoux, a Republican, held a 168-vote margin over challenger Laurie Hummel in the House District 15 race. Hummel and Dubey are political newcomers.

In all, five state Senate and all 16 state House seats in Anchorage were up for grabs. All four Senate incumbents appeared to win re-election, with Costello taking the fifth spot.

All 14 House incumbents appeared on their way to victory as final precincts reported early Wednesday morning, with the LeDoux-Hummel race the closest.

Two house races, both in Senate District K, had no incumbents. Republican Liz Vazquez beat Democrat Marty McGee in House District 22, with 57 percent of the votes, while Claman emerged with a slim lead over Dubey.

Dubey, the former director of the state's Enterprise Technology Services, was outspent almost 3-to-1 by Claman, an attorney who served on the Anchorage Assembly before becoming acting Anchorage mayor for six months in 2009.

The seat was previously held by former Rep. Lindsey Holmes, who changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican shortly after her election in 2012. She retired from the Legislature this year.

The state's largest city wields considerable influence over the Alaska Legislature, providing two-fifths of its Senate and House members.

Republicans, who hold a majority in both houses in Juneau, also dominate in Anchorage.

Costello (R-West Anchorage), will move from the House to the Senate. She took an early lead and never gave it up to Democrat Clare Ross in the race for the District K state Senate seat. By late Tuesday, Costello won about 14 percentage points in what had been a hard-fought race with Ross, former Anchorage library development director.

In House District 15 (South JBER-Elmendorf), LeDoux, the District 13 incumbent, struggled to fight off a strong challenge by retired Army colonel Hummel. With perhaps hundreds of absentee and questioned votes yet to be counted, LeDoux led by fewer than 200 votes after Tuesdays ballots were counted.

The race was the second-most expensive of this year's many legislative contests, with more than a combined $250,000 raised. Only the Senate District N race between Harry Crawford and Cathy Giessel has seen more money spent -- a combined $296,000. Giessel won re-election in that race.

Hummel and Dubey were among five candidates backed by Brad Keithley, a fiscal consultant and former oil and gas attorney who said he poured a total of $140,000 in support of Hummel, Dubey, Matt Moore, who lost his race against Lance Pruitt for House District 27, Cean Stevens, who was defeated by Democrat Geran Tarr in House District 19, and Pamela Good, who lost to Jim Colver in House District 9.

Keithley started his own Political Action Committee because he said he wants to reign in state spending. Even if none of his candidates win, he said, he got his message out to voters.

"It has got the issue to the surface and has people and candidates talking about it," Keithley said. "We are in a very serious fiscal situation, with the state deficit for this year projected to be $3 billion, that's more than $4,500 for every man, woman and child in the state."

And Keithley said he isn't done -- he plans to run several issue ads on Wednesday.