Skip to main Content

Costello win helps Alaska Republicans maintain legislative grip

  • Author: Pat Forgey
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published November 4, 2014

Update, Nov. 5:

A large number of absentee ballots and early votes remain to be counted in Southeast's District 36, where independent Dan Ortiz and Republican Chere Klein have been battling it out to represent Ketchikan and Wrangell in Juneau after the retirement of Republican Peggy Wilson.

Ortiz led by 19 votes after Tuesday's count, but the Alaska Division of Elections says 936 early votes and absentee ballots are already in hand and awaiting a count. Plus more absentees may arrive through Nov. 19, the deadline for overseas ballots.

In another close race, Fairbanks Democrat Adam Wool appears assured of victory over GOP incumbent Pete Higgins. He led by 225 votes on Tuesday, with just 179 early votes and absentee ballots in hand already for District 5, according to the division.

Original story:

JUNEAU -- Republicans easily held control of both houses of the Alaska Legislature on Tuesday, but there will be new faces in Juneau when the 29th Legislature convenes in January.

Fairbanks Democrat Adam Wool looks to be one of the newcomers. After all the votes cast Tuesday were counted, Wool led incumbent Rep. Pete Higgins, R-Fairbanks, in the race for House District 5 with 52 percent of the vote.

Wool, a well-known businessman, stepped into the race when primary winner Elizabeth Clark withdrew.

A new face is guaranteed to emerge from Southeast Alaska's House District 36, a seat left open when Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, retired. Independent Dan Ortiz was hoping to capitalize on the lack of a Democrat in the race to win the Ketchikan-dominated district. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, he led Ketchikan businesswoman Chere Klein, a Republican, by just 19 votes.

In the Senate, Republicans extended the 12-8 majority they enjoyed in the last session when Anchorage Republican Mia Costello won the seat vacated by Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage.

In the House, where Republicans held a 26-14 majority, even with a Higgins loss the few other seats in play are unlikely to change the balance of power dramatically.

With majorities in both houses secure, the Republicans will likely set the tone for the upcoming session. The majority party sets everything from committee assignments to leadership positions. Committee chair positions are especially important because they can decide which legislation gets moved to the full Legislature.


Democrat incumbents Sen. Dennis Egan and Rep. Sam Kito, both of Juneau, easily turned back their challengers, as did Rep. Cathy Munoz, a Juneau Republican.

Egan fended off a challenge from Republican Tom Williams in Senate District Q, representing all of Juneau as well as Haines, Skagway and Gustavus. And Kito easily held off Republican challenger Peter Dukowitz in House District 33 representing downtown Juneau, Haines, Skagway and Gustavus.

Munoz held off challenger Democrat George McGuan to continue to represent Juneau's Mendenhall Valley population center in House District 34.

In House District 35, Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, defeated a challenge from Petersburg Republican Steve Samuelson.

Southern Coastal District

In the District 32 contest to replace Rep. Alan Austerman, R-Kodiak -- an important voice for the fishing industry -- Kodiak Republican Louise Stutes beat Democrat Jerry McCune of Cordova 57 to 43 percent.

On the Kenai Peninsula, House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, defeated Democrat Rocky Knudsen in House District 29, and in House District 30, Rep. Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna, defeated Democratic challenger Shauna Thornton.

Sen Peter Micciche, R-Nikiski, easily overcame a challenge from independent Eric Treider for the Peninsula's Senate District O.

Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, also won re-election, beating Republican Moose Henrichs in Senate District P.


In an open race for the heavily Republican House District 6, Republican Dave Talerico defeated Democrat Wilson Justin. That district includes the Interior communities of Healy, Copper Center, Tanana and Fort Yukon.

Democratic Rep. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, faced a strong challenge from Republican Scott Bringhurst in downtown Fairbanks House District 1, but won with 54 percent of the vote after all Tuesday's ballots were counted.

Republican Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, retained his House District 2 seat, fending off a challenge from Democrat Lawrence Murakami in the district representing Fairbanks and Wainwright.

Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, defeated Democratic challenger Dorothy Shockley to win re-election in Senate District C, representing Fairbanks as well as Anderson, Eagle and Copper Center.

Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks won re-election in Senate District A, including Fairbanks and Fort Wainwright. He defeated Democrat Tamara Kruse Roselius.

Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole faced her toughest challenge in the Republican primary, where redistricting placed Rep. Doug Isaacson, R-North Pole, in her district. In Tuesday's general election, Wilson defeated Democrat Sharron Hunter of North Pole easily in one of the state's most Republican districts.

In Western Fairbanks and the Goldstream Valley, Democratic Rep. David Guttenberg defeated Republican challenger Joe Blanchard.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the Southeast Alaska district where Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins defeated a challenge from Petersburg Republican Steve Samuelson. It's District 35 not 25.

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.