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Alaska Legislature

In Alaska Legislature, 12 of 51 races are unopposed, but almost everyone else must wait for winners

  • Author: James Brooks
  • Updated: November 3, 2020
  • Published November 3, 2020

A "Vote Here" sign is tied to a fence outside the Central Lutheran Church, one of many polling locations across Anchorage, for the 2020 general election on Nov. 3, 2020. (Emily Mesner / ADN)

With a vast number of ballots still uncounted in Alaska’s state House and Senate races, only unopposed candidates and a handful of competitive races had certain results on Tuesday night.

After three members of the Alaska House’s governing coalition either died or lost their primary elections, the results of the November election may determine whether Republicans take control of the House or whether the coalition stays in charge.

In the Senate, any favorable results for independents and Democrats could allow a coalition to develop in that half of the Legislature.

On Election Day, the trend was clearly in favor of Republicans, but more than 123,222 ballots will not be counted for another week, and it isn’t certain how late-counted ballots will affect race results.

Democrats have applied for a disproportionately greater number of absentee ballots, but Republicans have a slight edge among early votes. In the August primary, non-Republican candidates received three-fifths of the late-counted votes.

By 11 p.m. with 55% of the Election Day tally recorded, seven House districts had reported full Election Day results. In all but one case, the Democratic or independent candidate is trailing:

• In Anchorage House District 23, Republican challenger Kathy Henslee leads Democratic incumbent Rep. Chris Tuck by 549 votes with all nine of the district’s precincts reporting Election Day results. There are at least 2,334 uncounted ballots in the district.

• In Anchorage House District 22 (Sand Lake), Republican incumbent Rep. Sara Rasmussen leads independent challenger Stephen Trimble by 2,014 votes. That likely will be enough to win the race: There are at least 3,292 uncounted votes.

• In Anchorage House District 24, Republican Tom McKay leads Democratic candidate Sue Levi by 1,866 votes. There are at least 3,734 uncounted ballots in the district. McKay defeated Republican incumbent Rep. Chuck Kopp during the primary.

• Nearby, Republican incumbent Mel Gillis leads independent challenger Calvin Schrage by 831 votes in the race for Anchorage House District 25. There are at least 3,067 uncounted ballots there.

• Republican incumbent Rep. Lance Pruitt leads Democratic challenger Liz Snyder by 1,092 votes in the race for Anchorage House District 27. There are at least 3,471 uncounted ballots there.

• Two years ago, Republican Bart LeBon of Fairbanks won his race for state House by a single vote. This year, he leads Democratic challenger Christopher Quist by 931 votes with at least 1,794 to be counted.

• In Southeast Alaska, Democratic Rep. Andi Story leads independent challenger Ed King by 723 votes for a Juneau House seat, but there are at least 2,970 ballots that will not be counted until next week.

Even without knowing the result of the late-counted ballots, some winners are clear.

In the Alaska House of Representatives, four Republicans, five Democrats and independent Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon were unopposed except for write-ins.

In the Alaska Senate, Republican Bert Stedman and Democrat Tom Begich were unopposed.

Rep. DeLena Johnson, R-Palmer, was opposed by a Democrat who did not campaign.

Six other House Republicans — Christopher Kurka of Wasilla, Kevin McCabe of Big Lake, George Rauscher of Sutton, David Eastman of Wasilla, Ken McCarty of Eagle River and Kelly Merrick of Eagle River — have challengers who have campaigned, but their districts lean heavily Republican and there was no sign either Tuesday or in advance voting that they are likely to lose.

In the Senate, Republicans David Wilson and Shelley Hughes had Election Day margins so large that they are virtually certain to win, even though thousands of ballots remain uncounted in their districts.