Chenault upsets Smalley

Posted: Wednesday, November 08, 2000

Rep. Hal Smalley, D-Kenai, is not prepared to burn his campaign signs, despite losing his seat in the state House to Charles "Mike" Che-nault, R-Nikiski.

That's what Smalley told Chenault when he congratulated him at Kenai Chrysler Center's "election central" bash late Tuesday night.

"I may come back at you in two years," Smalley said. "There will be no sign fire."

In turn, Chenault was gracious to the ousted incumbent.

"I hope I live up to your reputation," Chenault said. "I hope I represent the people as well as you did."

Chenault won the House District 9 race to represent Nikiski and Kenai handily, with 2,879 votes to Smalley's 2,291 and Republican Moderate James Price's 426. Chenault had 51.40 percent of the vote, while Smalley had 40.9 percent and Price had 7.61 percent.

Chenault won despite trailing in a Republican Party poll late last week.

"I was never ahead," Chenault said. "Not even in our own polls."

Smalley saw the same polling numbers, which added to the surprise of his loss.

"I thought it was going to be a lot closer," Smalley said. "I guess people just wanted to vote for a change."

Smalley speculated that some negative campaign ads that came out in the past week may have swayed the undecided voters.

"There were some half-truths in those ads," Smalley said. "They said I voted to take away the dividend, but I did not. I voted to put a plan before the people."

Smalley referred to the September 1999 vote on use of Alaska Permanent Fund earnings to partially fund state government. While he, along with many legislators, gave presentations about the plan in District 9, Smalley never came out in favor of it.

For his part, Chenault said, he was surprised when the negative ads came out on the radio.

"When I first heard them, I had to call the radio station to find out who sponsored them," Chenault said.

He said they came from the Alaska Republican Party, and that he had no prior knowledge of them nor any say in their content.

"I have no control over the Republican Party, the same way Hal has no control over the Democratic Party," Chenault said. "Nothing in my campaign was negative toward Hal or James."

Smalley said he will continue to work for the people of District 9 for the next two months.

"And January through May, I expect to play a lot more Wallyball than I have," Smalley said.

Wallyball is a variation of volleyball, played in a handball court.

Republican Moderate candidate James Price, whose campaigning may have been hurt by his support of the controversial initiatives legalizing hemp and instituting a statewide property tax cap, said he appreciated the votes he did get.

"I'm surprised I got beat as bad as I did, but I'm feeling all right," Price said.

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