French, Thomas cling to narrow leads as count continues
The ballot counting continued in some legislative races Nov. 13, one week after results from most House and Senate districts put Republicans in charge of both houses.
Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, emerged with a two-vote lead over political newcomer Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins in his bid for re-election — 4,054 votes to 4,052. Coming into the day, Kreiss-Tomkins, a Democrat from Sitka, held a 43-vote lead.
"It makes Six Flags look like a walk in the park," Kreiss-Tomkins said. "It's been up and down, a rollercoaster."
And it's not over: Nov. 16 is the deadline for the state to receive by-mail ballots mailed from within the United States, and Nov. 21 is the deadline to receive ballots mailed from overseas or military addresses.
Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai could not immediately say Nov. 13 how many ballots remained outstanding; she said the immediate focus was on counting ballots. Counting was to continue Nov. 14.
On Nov. 13, election officials counted a wave of absentee and question ballots, and there were hopes the process could bring closure to a handful of still-tight races.
Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, widened his lead over Rep. Pete Petersen, D-Anchorage, holding a 216-vote advantage when the new numbers came out late Nov. 13. Pruitt was recently named House majority leader in a move that indicated his party's confidence in how his race would shake out. He and Petersen were forced to run against each other as a result of redistricting.
Meanwhile, Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, saw his lead over Republican Bob Bell winnowed from 247 votes to 56, in what was an expensive and closely watched race. Former state lawmaker Pete Kelly widened his lead over Sen. Joe Paskvan, D-Fairbanks, to 924 votes. Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, already has been named co-chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
Heading into the day, Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks, led Rep. Alan Dick, R-Nenana, by 253 votes in a three-way race that also included nonaffiliated candidate Dorothy Shockley. House Democrats recently announced that Guttenberg would be one of the minority members serving on the House Finance Committee.
Fenumiai said no ballots for that district were counted Nov. 13.