Democratic state House candidate Liz Snyder has defeated the House’s top Republican, House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, according to the latest count from the Alaska Division of Elections.
With an estimated 99.9% of votes counted statewide, Snyder leads Pruitt by 16 votes in House District 27. The difference is well within the margin for a state-paid recount if Pruitt requests one, but no recount has ever overturned a margin that large.
“We’re excited! It was a long campaign and a long wait to get the news,” Snyder said after hearing the result.
Pruitt led on Election Day, but votes counted that day accounted for only 55% of all ballots statewide. Snyder took a small lead as absentee, questioned and early votes were added to the tally in the subsequent two weeks, and the lead held as the district’s final votes were counted.
“Obviously, it’s the news we wanted to hear, and we’re just excited. It feels like it’s not just my win or our win; it’s a big win for East Anchorage,” she said.
Pruitt said he has not yet conceded and has not decided whether he will request a recount or challenge the result in court.
He noted that despite his close loss, he received many more votes than the other Republicans on the ballot in the district. Campaign finance reports show about $750,000 was spent in the House District 27 race, making it the most expensive state House election on record.
Elsewhere in Anchorage, Republican David Nelson has defeated Democrat Lyn Franks in the race to replace Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage. Nelson defeated LeDoux in the Republican primary but had to wait for victory in the general election as his Election Day margin shrank. Tuesday’s 90-vote margin may change slightly in the final count but not enough to change the outcome.
“I’m glad it came out the way it did, and we’ll see what comes up next,” Nelson said, also offering his thanks to supporters.
Franks, who lost to LeDoux in 2018, said she expects to run again in two years. “It’s a close margin. Hopefully next time, it’ll be better,” she said.
She expects to formally concede after the count becomes final.
In House District 40, which covers the North Slope and Northwest Arctic Borough, independent Josiah Patkotak defeated Democratic candidate Elizabeth Ferguson, 52%-47%.
When all races are decided, there will be 21 Republicans in the Alaska House of Representatives, the bare minimum needed to form a majority. The other 19 seats will be held by Democrats or independents.
Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, said that’s a “remarkable” result, considering there are 66,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in Alaska, and it was a presidential election year.
When Josephson was elected to the House in 2012, the House had only 14 Democrats, and four were members of the 30-person, Republican-led majority.
“That’s a sea change,” he said of the result this year.