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Candidates gearing up for election season

Posted: Friday, April 25, 2008

Four incumbent Republican state lawmakers representing parts of the Kenai Peninsula Borough say they would seek re-election in November.

At least some of them, however, must first face primary challengers.

The 2008 election season, already in full swing at the national level, is about to get serious at the state level, too. The Nov. 4 general election will decide the next president and vice president of the United States, and fill one of Alaska's two U.S. Senate seats and its only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Voters also will choose the winners of 10 Alaska Senate and all 40 Alaska House seats, including those in Senate District Q, currently held by two-term Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, and in House Districts 33, 34 and 35, currently held by Republican Reps. Kurt Olson, of Soldotna, Mike Chenault, of Nikiski, and Paul Seaton, of Homer, respectively.

All four incumbents have filed for re-election. Senate District R's seat, held by Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, is not up for election this go-round.

So far, Wagoner faces just one primary challenger, John Nels Anderson, of Soldotna, currently a member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education, whose term expires this year.

As of Thursday, no one was officially listed with the Division of Elections as challenging Olson in the primary for House District 33.

However, Kelly Wolf, of Kenai, who served in the Alaska House during the 23rd Legislature, said he would run for the District 33 seat in the general election in November as a non-partisan candidate. He said Thursday that he was in the process of collecting the 62 signatures required by the Alaska Public Offices Commission to run as a non-partisan.

Chenault, a four-term incumbent first sent to Juneau in 2000 and currently co-chair of the House Finance Committee, has drawn a District 34 primary challenge from Jonathan H. "Jon" Becker, a Republican from Nikiski.

No one has yet filed to run against Seaton in House District 35, either in the primary or general election.

The filing deadline for party-affiliated candidates intending to run in the Aug. 26 primary election is June 2.

For no-party candidates, the same June 2 date is the deadline for filing a notification form and public officials financial disclosure statements, while Aug. 26, the date of the primary, is the deadline for no-party candidates to file completed nominating petitions and subscribers' signatures.

In the national races, perennial public office-seeker Ray P. Vinzant Sr., of Soldotna, is listed by the Alaska Division of Elections as having filed as a write-in candidate for President of the United States.

Ted Stevens, longest sitting Republican member of the U.S. Senate, faces a lengthy list of challenger hopefuls including Frank J. Vondersaar, a Democrat from Homer, who has run several times in the past for national offices.

Also officially challenging Stevens are:

* Rocky C. Caldero, Democrat, Dutch Harbor;

* Gerald L. Heikes, Republican, Palmer;

* Ray Metcalf, Democrat, Anchorage;

* Roderic H. Sikma, Republican, North Pole; and

* Rich M. Wanda, Republican, Anchorage.

Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich has announced his candidacy for Stevens' Senate seat, but as of April 24, he was not yet listed by the Alaska Division of Elections.

Also absent from the division's list, at least for now, is 18-term U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.

No one from the Kenai Peninsula has filed to run for his House seat so far, but others have, including Alaska's Lt. Governor Sean Parnell, Republican of Anchorage.

Others include:

* Diane E. Benson, Democrat, Anchorage;

* Ethan A. Berkowitz, Democrat, Anchorage;

* Gabrielle LeDoux, Republican, Anchorage; and

* Jake Metcalf, Democrat, Anchorage (no relation to Ray Metcalf).

With regard to contests for municipal offices, the election is set for Oct. 7. The filing period for Kenai Peninsula Borough and city offices opens Aug. 1 and closes Aug. 15.

So far, Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey has announced he will run for borough mayor. That position's current occupant, Mayor John Williams, has not said if he will seek re-election.

Hal Spence can be reached at hspence@ptialaska.net.



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