District 35 race pits Republican vs. Republican

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Barring the unlikely election of a write-in candidate in November, the Republican Party primary on Tuesday will determine who goes to Juneau in January to represent House District 35.

The race for the GOP nomination pits one-term incumbent Rep. Drew Scalzi against his challenger Paul Seaton, two commercial fishers who have differed over fisheries policy for years.

No candidates from any other party filed to run for the seat. That leaves district voters with the choice of selecting the Republican Party ballot or having no input at all into the outcome of the primary race for the House.

Seaton has questioned the thrust of fisheries legislation promoted by Scalzi, arguing that inherent flaws will harm the fisheries and commercial fishers.

Scalzi says bills he saw through the Legislature and into law were thoroughly researched and had the backing of a broad cross-section of fishing organizations.

The issues include such things as guideline harvests, individual fishing quotas, corporate ownership of limited entry permits and the best way to protect the fish stocks, arcane subjects to those unfamiliar with the fishing industry.

In fact, the candidates have expressed some concern that their arguments over fish policies aren't reaching voters beyond the industry. But fish issues are what most divide the two candidates.

There are other issues, of course, such as moving the Legislature, how to fund education and whether Alaskans ought to pay an income or sales tax.

The contest is likely to be tight. Scalzi faced only weak Democratic Party opposition in the 2000 general election and won the race for House District 7 handily. But now, the shape of the district and its name, have changed.

Both candidates likely find the lower Kenai Peninsula more familiar ground, but House District 35 now includes Seward and the eastern peninsula, an area that could have a major influence on the outcome of the race.

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