Incumbent Republican Sen. Tom Wagoner soundly defeated former state Sen. Jerry Ward in Tuesday's primary election, easily earning his party's nod in the Senate District Q race, despite Ward's apparent willingness to spend freely to regain the seat he lost to Wagoner two years ago.
In the last few weeks of the campaign, Ward committed more than $140,000 of his own money to finance a heated media battle in which Wagoner also spent a hefty sum, though nowhere near as much of his own personal savings.
With all 13 precincts reporting, Wagoner outpolled Ward 2,737 to 2,007. A third Republican candidate, Scott Hamann of Nikiski, a newcomer to the political scene, polled 924 votes.
"It feels good to have it over with," Wagoner said Tuesday night. "And it feels good to let Jerry Ward know that this is not Ward country. This is Wagoner country."
Ward could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Wagoner will now face independent candidate Robert Merchant of Kenai in the general election Nov. 2.
Former Wagoner aide Kurt E. Olson of Soldotna also proved an easy winner in a four-way Republican primary contest for the seat from House District 33. Incumbent Rep. Kelly Wolf did not file to run for re-election. Olson will face Democrat Hal Smalley of Kenai, a former member of the Alaska House, in the Nov. 2 general election.
"I'm honored that people of the district have given me the opportunity to run in the general election come November," Olson said Tuesday night. "I'm also pleased the primary was a clean race with respect to the issues."
With all six precincts reporting, Olson got 1,188 votes. John G. "Ozzie" Osborne of Kenai got 804 votes; David Richards of Soldotna got 284 votes; and Mel Krogseng of Soldotna got 254 votes.
Smalley, running on the Democratic ballot, got 711 votes. Efforts to reach Smalley late Tuesday for comment were not successful.
The primary contest for the House District 34 seat was a yawner. Only Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Chenault of Nikiski filed to run. The race drew no other parties to the fray. Chenault will face independent candidate Glen F. Martin of Sterling in the Nov. 2 election.
On the southern end of the peninsula, the winners of the respective party primaries in the race for House District 35 were a foregone conclusion, as well. The three primary candidates were from three different parties, meaning they will meet again Nov. 2.
Incumbent Republican Rep. Paul Seaton of Homer garnered 1,300 votes with all 11 pre-cincts reporting.
Democrat Deb Germano of Homer, who has spent several years on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education and is its current president, earned 1,042 votes.
Ed Martin Jr. of Cooper Landing got 225 votes running as a member of the Alaska Independence Party.
Seaton said he expects the issues in the general election to be the same as those that governed dialogue during the primary contest. That would include, he said, "how to deal with budgetary matters, education, public safety and making sure we have a good economy."
The vote spread was no surprise, Seaton said, adding that it was expected many voters would chose the Democratic Party ballot because of the contest between two Democrats vying for their party's nod to run against incumbent Republican Sen. Gary Stevens in November for the Senate District R seat.
"That was where the race was," Seaton said.
Seaton predicted a clean race to come, but suggested details might be sparse during any debates because, in all, four candidates will be vying for the seat Nov. 2.
Besides Germano and Martin, independent candidate Mike Heimbuch of Homer also will challenge Seaton in House District 35 contest.
Germano said she was excited and pleased with how well she did.
"Gee, I must be a viable candidate, huh?" she quipped when contacted late Tuesday.
She said she would focus on education funding, the use of the closed caucus, which she opposes, and ethics in the coming campaign. She said she couldn't predict whether the race would be clean. It would depend, she said, on how much influence comes from beyond the district. She said she hoped it would be an issue-oriented race.
The only peninsula race still undecided by 11:40 p.m. Tuesday was the contest for the Democratic Party nomination for senate in Senate District R. That district covers most of the lower peninsula, including Homer and Seward, and Kodiak Island.
Democrat Mike Yourkowski of Homer held a 970 to 575 margin over Democrat Mike Milligan of Kodiak, but that was with just 15 of 25 precincts reporting. Contacted late Tuesday, Yourkowski said it appeared the 10 remaining precincts were all on Kodiak and included small villages. He estimated that if voter turnout matched that of the rest of the senate district, Milligan probably would not garner enough votes to overcome Yourkowski's lead.
"We're ready to go to sleep thinking that we made it through the first hurdle," he said.
"We want people to know that we are ready to take on (Sen. Gary) Stevens. When people realize he is not the moderate they think he is and analyze his voting record, they will see he is (Gov. Frank) Mur-kowski's biggest supporter."
Yourkowski said he would be running for the Senate District R seat largely against Murkow-ski's policies.
Stevens said it is too early to say much about the Democratic numbers, but said he was anxious to see whom he'd be running against in November.
As for that race, Stevens said he would run on his record.
"I will show the public what's been accomplished," he said.
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