Incumbent Republican Rep. Kurt Olson apparently squeaked out a narrow victory over his Alaska primary opponent Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey in the race for their party’s nomination for House District 33.
Carey led Olson election night, Aug. 22, by four votes, 1,210 to 1,206. Absentee votes counted after election night pushed Olson into the lead by 10 votes, 1,349 to Carey’s 1,339. Questioned ballots split almost evenly, with 18 going to Olson, 17 to Carey.
The uncertified results now give Olson an 11-vote lead, 1,367 to 1,356. The vote counting ended Tuesday.
Two special advanced ballots must still be counted, said Kelly Cyrus, elections administration supervisor, but even if they were for Carey, they would not change the outcome.
Olson said Tuesday evening he was “feeling a bit more optimistic” than he had election night.
“I have a lot of respect for Dave,” he said. “I worked with Dave on the (Soldotna) city council and I continue to work with him.”
Carey said Wednesday afternoon he would not ask for a recount.
“I just met with Kurt,” Carey said, adding he was a loyal Republican and would support the Republican candidate.
The results bring to a close one of the most civil of campaigns in which Olson defended his voting record and expressed his desire to return to Juneau for another term to complete unfinished business, especially concerning the future of a natural gas pipeline project and public employee retirement cost issues, and Carey called for a change of direction, opposing Gov. Frank Murkowski’s approach to building a pipeline.
The State Review Board must now certify the results of all races and ballot measures. The Division of Elections estimates that will occur by Sept. 16, although that is not a statutory date.
For a recount to be held, Carey or 10 qualified voters would have to make a formal request to the director of Elections within five days of the State Review Board’s certification. Recounts are automatic only in the result of a tie.
Olson will now face a challenge from Pete Sprague, a sitting Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member from Soldotna, who is running as a Democrat for the District 33 House seat.
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