The Alaska State Capitol. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Alaska State Capitol. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Alaska House control fate remains unsettled with race tied

ANCHORAGE — A Fairbanks race that will decide control of the Alaska House of Representatives could be the subject of a recount after an audit of about 600 absentee ballots didn’t break a tie Friday.

Democrat Kathryn Dodge and Republican Bart LeBon both have 2,661 votes, a tally that didn’t change after Friday’s review in Juneau.

Election officials are also reviewing the legality of one ballot that has not been counted.

The ballot was enclosed in a secrecy sleeve, but there was no supporting documentation with it to determine whether it was legally cast. Officials didn’t immediately have a timetable when they would rule whether to count the ballot or discard it.

Dodge said she has not seen the ballot and doesn’t know who it was cast for.

LeBon wasn’t aware of this ballot, but he sees the race going to a recount whether or not it’s counted.

“I would be shocked if it didn’t,” he said by phone from Fairbanks. “One of us is going to pick up a vote, I would guess, and the other one will ask for a recount.”

The recount would be held Nov. 30. If the tie isn’t broken then, the winner will be chosen by lot, with the actual process — such as a coin flip — to be decided by Josie Bahnke, the state’s election director.

“I would say that what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t expect things to change much in a recount,” Dodge told The Associated Press by phone from Juneau, where she watched the audit.

She also has no preference on how a winner would be determined by lot if it come to that, but added with a laugh: “I prefer not to have to do that.”

The stakes are high in the outcome of this race: If LeBon wins, the GOP will have a majority in the 40-member body and put Republicans in control of both chambers and the governor’s office.

But if Dodge emerges as the winner, there will be a 20-20 tie, and the horse-trading will have to begin for one side to woo someone to secure a majority.

The House race is to replace Rep. Scott Kawasaki, a Fairbanks Democrat who gave up his seat to successfully challenge Senate President Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican.

The close contest between Dodge and LeBon has gone back and forth since the Nov. 6 election.

LeBon held a five-vote lead over Dodge until Wednesday, when Election Day ballots and those cast in early voting were audited. That process gave Dodge six additional votes and LeBon one.

LeBon said the way the week has unfolded, the discovery of the ballot in the secrecy sleeve doesn’t shock him. “And it would not surprise me if that vote was for Kathryn Dodge. That’s the way my last few days have gone,” he said.

Republicans had already claimed control of the House when it appeared LeBon was in the lead. That move, current House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, a Dillingham Democrat, warned was premature.

The division has targeted Monday to certify the election.

By MARK THIESSEN, Associated Press

More in News

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s city council appropriates funds for FY 2025 capital projects

Improvements are described for streets, police facility, Soldotna Creek Park and Soldotna Community Memorial Park

Gina Plank processes sockeye salmon caught on the first day of Kenai River dipnetting with her table set up on the bank of the Kenai River in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River open for dipnetting

As of Tuesday, a total of 226,000 sockeye had been counted in the Kenai River’s late run

Assembly Vice President Tyson Cox speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly won’t pursue further discussion on tabled bed tax resolution

Members say they’re going to work on a new version of the idea this winter

Gov. Mike Dunleavy pictured with members of the House majority after signing the fiscal year 2025 budget bills, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Anchorage, Alaska. From left to right: Reps. Stanley Wright, Tom McKay, Thomas Baker, Craig Johnson, Kevin McCabe, Julie Coulombe and Laddie Shaw. (Photo provided by Office of the Governor)
Dunleavy signs capital budget with $3.7M in state funding for Kenai Peninsula, vetoes $3.3M

Roughly $90 million in federal funding also allocated to Kenai Peninsula

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna man arrested Friday after 30-minute police chase

The man had an outstanding warrant for felony probation violation

Most Read