Fairbanks Republican mounts write-in bid against unopposed Democrat

Posted: Tuesday, August 01, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- An aide to Republican Sen. Pete Kelly is mounting a write-in campaign against Democrat Joe Hayes, another legislative aide who had been unopposed in the race to succeed retiring Democrat Tom Brice in the House.

Victor Gunn, a former Fairbanks deputy police chief, announced his bid Monday.

Hayes, currently an aide to Brice, slipped onto the ballot alone last month after his boss announced his retirement four hours before the filing deadline.

Gunn said he wanted to file for the seat but was stopped by the Alaska Constitution, which requires candidates to live in Alaska for three years before they file for office. .

Gunn had moved out of state after retiring in 1995 and returned on June 4, 1997 -- two years, 362 days before this year's June 1 filing deadline.

''At that time, it didn't mean anything to me--June 1, June 4, May 31--what difference did it make?'' Gunn said.

Write-in candidates, however, must have lived in the state three years from when they file their notice of intent to run for office. Gunn said he filed on Friday.

Now he has an uphill struggle on his hands.

No write-in challenger has won a statewide campaign and Division of Elections officials could not recall a successful write-in campaign for the Legislature either, said Virginia Breeze, a spokeswoman for the division.

Several efforts have come close, including former Gov. Walter Hickel's bid to unseat then-Gov. Jay Hammond in 1978 and former U.S. Sen. Ernest Gruening's write-in loss to U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel. State Sen. Robin Taylor, R-Wrangell, finished a distant second in the 1998 gubernatorial race against incumbent Gov. Tony Knowles.

Gunn said he'd campaign as if his name were on the ballot.

''I'm just getting a late start,'' Gunn said.

Hayes said his campaign plan wouldn't change.

''I'm out there knocking on doors three hours a day,'' Hayes said. ''He has to do the same.''

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