Kenai Peninsula voters Tuesday mirrored their counterparts from across the state, easily electing GOP gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin and running-mate Sean Parnell, sending incumbent Republican legislators back to Juneau and choosing, once again, to reward Don Young with another term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
They also joined the majority of Alaskans in voting for a 90-day legislative session and against a gas reserves tax, ballot measures 1 and 2, respectively.
In House District 33, which includes Kenai and Soldotna and where the turnout was 41.1 percent, incumbent Rep. Kurt Olson won re-election over Democrat Pete Sprague and Alaskan Independence Party candidate John Osborne. District 33 voters chose Young over Democratic Party challenger, Diane Benson, by a margin of two to one.
In the surrounding rural areas making up House District 34, where the turnout was 42.8 percent, incumbent Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, won re-election in a race in which he was unchallenged. Young also won there by an even larger margin, 66.7 percent to Benson’s 29.1 percent.
House District 35 voters from Anchor Point to Seward sent Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, back for another term, and likewise decided for Young, but by a tighter margin.
There, Benson managed to garner 47.3 percent, but lost nevertheless to Young’s 49.9 percent. Some 42.6 percent of eligible voters there cast ballots.
In the race for governor, Palin and Parnell got 62.5 percent of the vote in District 33, while Democrats Tony Knowles and Ethan Berkowitz garnered 25.6 percent. Andrew Halcro, running as an Independent, and his running-mate Fay Von Gemmingen, earned 10.8 percent.
The results were similar in District 34, where Palin polled a healthy 69.9 percent, to Knowles’ 18.9 percent and Halcro’s 9.9 percent.
District 35 voters made it a much closer race, handing Palin 45.4 percent, while giving Knowles 42.5 percent. Halcro got 10.8 percent.
Peninsula voters split when it came to approving a 90-day legislative session.
District 33 voted to shorten the current session length from 120 days by a margin of 55.8 percent for to 44.2 percent against, which was virtually matched in District 34, where the vote was 56.9 to 43.1 percent.
In District 35, however, voters nearly reversed those numbers, opposing a shortened session 54.7 percent against, 45.3 percent for.
When it came to a proposed tax on gas reserves that proponents argued would move major producers toward building a natural gas pipeline and opponents said could threaten the very idea of a pipeline, voters cast ballots overwhelmingly against the tax.
In District 33, 69.4 percent of voters opposed Ballot Measure 2, while 30.5 approved it.
District 34 balloting showed opposition by a 66.1 to 33.9 percent margin.
It was only slightly tighter in District 35, where voters opposed the proposition 59.8 to 40.2 percent.
Hal Spence can be reached at email@example.com.
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