Sarah Drury, 5, ignores the options in a vending machine while her mother, Darci, exercises her options in the voting booth Tuesday at the state offices building in Kenai.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Incumbent Republican Rep. Kurt Olson, of Soldotna, won re-election to a second term in the Alaska House on Tuesday, handily defeating his Democratic Party challenger, Pete Sprague, and Alaskan Independence Party candidate John Osborne, of Kenai, in the race for House District 33.
Voters gave Olson 56 percent of the vote to Sprague’s 36.45 percent. Osborne was a distant third at 7.48 percent. Total votes tallied 2,867 for Olson, 1,866 for Sprague, and 383 for Osborne.
“Well, I’m glad its over,” Olson said Tuesday evening from Anchorage. “I’ve been running on energy the last couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep.”
The upcoming session will focus on important issues, Olson said. Two of them he campaigned on bringing a natural gas pipeline deal to fruition (he opposed Gov. Frank Murkowski’s proposed contract with the major producers) and fixing the growing financial problem posed by the public employee and teacher retirement systems (PERS/TRS), which now face a combined debt estimated to be as high as $8.5 billion to $10 billion, he said.
Tuesday, Olson noted a third.
“We definitely will need to address campaign law donations, and legislators with contracts with firms that have an interest in the outcome of legislation,” he said.
Olson said his friend, Pete Sprague, ran a good race.
“We’re still friends, and I’m looking forward to working with him,” Olson said.
Reached late Tuesday night, Sprague congratulated Olson and reciprocated the mutual friendship.
“You bet. That’s very important,” he said.
As for his race, Sprague said he was disappointed about the loss, but not the effort.
“We had a good team and a good plan,” he said. “We worked hard and had a lot of support. I don’t see anything that I would have done differently. I applaud Kurt for running a good, solid race. There was definitely no gray area the electorate made their choice.”
Sprague retains his seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.
In House District 34, incumbent Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, ran unopposed and has won re-election in the rural district stretching across the western peninsula from Anchor Point to Hope. Reached just before 10 p.m. Tuesday, before results from across the state were complete, he predicted Republican’s might lose a couple of seats in the House, but not control of the body.
“I don’t know yet the effect that will have on organization,” he said. “We will organize sometime later this week, and then in January head on down to Juneau and see if we can’t get the people’s business done.”
On the lower and eastern Kenai Peninsula, Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, won re-election. Seaton ran unopposed for House District 35 seat, his Democratic Party opponent, Seward city employee Anthony Sieminski, having dropped out of the campaign in order to address family matters.
Sieminski’s name did appear on the ballot, however, and despite not campaigning, he managed to secure over 31 percent of the vote.
Tuesday night, Seaton said he expected the Republican majority would end up somewhat smaller than it was, but that won’t change the critical issues lawmakers have to face.
“Basically, we will be looking at PERS/TRS and municipal revenue sharing of some kind, and, of course, a gas line. Those are going to be the big ones.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Gary Stevens, the current Senate Majority Leader, easily topped Democrat Charles Davidson, a 13-year Kodiak City Council member, in the race for Senate District Q.
Stevens garnered 60.57 percent of the vote (4,715) to Davidson’s 39.19 percent (3,051).
Attempts to reach Stevens for comment late Tuesday were not successful.
Hal Spence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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