House results get put on hold

Election will be certified by mid-September

Posted: Thursday, August 24, 2006

Late-arriving absentee ballots will decide the Republican primary race in House District 33, but an officially certified accounting of all votes won’t be available until around the middle of September, according to the Division of Elections.

Rep. Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna, and Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey finished in a virtual tie Tuesday, with Carey leading Olson by just two votes.

State Elections Coordinator Lauri Wilson said an unofficial count of late-arriving absentee and overseas military ballots would be completed by Sept. 6, at which point the vote tallies would be turned over to the State Review Board. The board has a nonstatutory target date of Sept. 15 by which to deliver the results to the Division of Elections Director Whitney Brewster for certification.

Olson topped Carey’s vote count in the three Kenai and in the Kalifornsky Beach precincts. But Carey won in Soldotna and Central precincts and took more of the available absentee ballots — in all, giving him a slim two-vote lead over the incumbent, 1,193 to 1,191. Republican David Richards, of Soldotna, was a distant third in the GOP race, garnering 125 votes.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party nominee Pete Sprague, who ran unopposed, picked up a total of 619 votes, and in the Alaskan Independence Party primary, John Osborne defeated Robert Pope, 118 to 52. Sprague and Osborne will run against the winner of the Olson-Carey race in November.

District 34 Rep. Mike Chenault will breeze into another term in the Alaska House. He had no challenger in the primary and has no challenger in the November general election.

Incumbent District 35 Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, ran unopposed in the Republican primary and will face Seward resident Anthony Sieminski who won the Democratic Party primary.

In Senate District R, incumbent Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, will face Democrat Charles Davidson, of Kodiak, in the November election.

Alaska voters decided two ballot propositions Tuesday, and voters in all three Kenai Peninsula districts mirrored the sentiments of their statewide counterparts, approving both by fairly healthy margins.

Proposition 1 reduced the maximum amount individuals and groups could contribute to political campaigns and set stricter criteria for when people must register as lobbyists. Peninsula voters overwhelmingly supported stricter rules.

House District 33 voters passed Proposition 1 by a margin of 2,581 to 801, while in House District 34 the figures were 2,828 to 802. In House District 35, it was 2,431 to 646.

Proposition 2 was by far the hotter issue. It imposed a $50-per-person head tax on cruise ship passengers, taxed onboard gambling activities and included certain environmental regulation and commercial disclosure provisions.

The cruise ship industry worked hard to defeat the measure, but Alaskans largely saw merit in the tax levies. They also favored that cruise lines allow independent engineers to monitor pollution prevention activities and requiring cruise lines to disclose to passengers when they were receiving commissions from onshore businesses to which they were guiding passengers.

While the vote tallies were closer than Proposition 1, the statement voters made was as clear. In House District 33, they agreed to the new taxes and other provisions 1,962 to 1,498; in House District 34, the figures were 2,102 to 1,596; and in House District 35 voters supported it by a 2,431 to 646 margin.

In statewide races, Sarah Palin was the overwhelming Republican winner in all three peninsula districts, easily topping incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski and John Binkley by margins of better than three to one. Statewide with 382 of 439 precincts reporting as of Wednesday afternoon, Palin had better than 51 percent, while Binkley had 30. The governor received 19 percent of all ballots.

In the Democratic Party primary, former Gov. Tony Knowles was the clear winner over main rival Rep. Eric Croft in all three districts. Statewide, Knowles had 69 percent to Croft’s 23 percent with 382 of 439 precincts counted.

In the race for lieutenant governor, Republican Sean Parnell was defeating former state Sen. Jerry Ward in all three peninsula districts, including Ward’s own House District 34, where he lost by a margin of 1,540 to 1,305.

Democratic Party voters chose Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage, as their nominee over Sen. Donald Olson, D-Nome, and Democrats Betty Rollins and Kay Rollison.

U.S. House of Representatives incumbent Don Young was the only name on the Republican primary ballot. He will face Democrat Diane Benson, who had better than 40 percent of the statewide Democratic Party vote by Wednesday afternoon and was defeating rivals Ray Metcalf, Frank Vondersaar and Todd Hyde.

Most peninsula voters agreed, giving Benson the nod in Districts 33 and 35. Metcalf won in District 34.

Voter turnout on the peninsula was weak. A little more than 28 percent of District 33’s eligible voters cast ballots, and fewer than 29 percent did so in District 34. Only 25 percent voted in District 35.

With 382 of 439 precincts counted, about 29.33 percent of eligible voters statewide cast ballots.

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