Republican Bart LeBon of Fairbanks listens to a reporter’s question after leaving the Alaska Supreme Court hearing room in Anchorage, Alaska, on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, where justices heard arguments in a lawsuit disputing his one-vote victory in a state House race. His challenger, Democrat Kathryn Dodge, is challenging the results of a recount that determined LeBon won the open Fairbanks seat. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Republican Bart LeBon of Fairbanks listens to a reporter’s question after leaving the Alaska Supreme Court hearing room in Anchorage, Alaska, on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, where justices heard arguments in a lawsuit disputing his one-vote victory in a state House race. His challenger, Democrat Kathryn Dodge, is challenging the results of a recount that determined LeBon won the open Fairbanks seat. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Court upholds Republican recount win in House race

  • By BECKY BOHRER Associated Press
  • Sunday, January 6, 2019 1:22am
  • News

JUNEAU — The Alaska Supreme Court on Friday upheld the results of a recount in a disputed state House race that showed Republican Bart LeBon winning by one vote.

The court issued a brief order affirming the decision by Alaska’s former elections director following arguments earlier in the day in Anchorage. The court said a full opinion would follow.

A superior court judge who was appointed a special master in the case previously recommended that the court uphold the Division of Election’s decisions during the recount.

Democrat Kathryn Dodge challenged four ballots, questioning whether two voters whose ballots were counted lived in the district and saying the division incorrectly changed its record of one voter’s residence to an address outside the district.

She provided affidavits from voters in two of the instances to try to bolster her case. But the state argued that both were sent to the division director after the recount, and any evidence not available at the time of the recount should be disregarded.

The state changed the address of one man to an address outside the district based on his application for an annual check from the state’s oil-wealth fund. Voters in 2016 approved an initiative calling for the division to register qualified Alaskans to vote when they apply for a dividend check.

Justice Susan Carney noted the law requires that the division send out an opt-out notice, which she said it believes it sent. Thomas Amodio, an attorney for Dodge, said there was no proof that one was sent.

An attorney for the state, Katherine Demarest, said the division acted within the law.

LeBon will succeed Democratic Rep. Scott Kawasaki in the Fairbanks seat. Kawasaki was elected to the state Senate.

Dodge in a statement said she respects the court’s decision and has no regrets about pursuing the case to completion. She said every vote “was examined and ruled upon with careful consideration.” She wished LeBon well as he heads to Juneau for the start of the legislative session Jan. 15.

Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, in a statement, said he was glad the court acted quickly “so that the incoming legislature can focus on fulfilling their duties to the people of Alaska.”

But it’s not clear how much of an impact the outcome will have as the House struggles to organize a majority.

Republicans claimed a fragile 21-member majority after the election, which included LeBon. But Republican Rep. Gary Knopp of Kenai, who was part of that group, later said he was leaving the GOP caucus in hopes of forging a bipartisan coalition to control the 40-member House.

He said Friday the outcome of the race did not change his position. He worried about the ability of a narrow majority to function well and said the parties need to work together.

The incoming House will have 23 Republicans. But two of those, Reps. Louise Stutes and Gabrielle LeDoux, caucused with Democrats the last two years and recently signed a letter with Democratic and independent colleagues from rural and coastal areas and indicated a desire to be part of some form of coalition.

Nonetheless, a statement congratulating LeBon from two members of the Republican caucus, Reps. Dave Talerico and Tammie Wilson, was released under an Alaska House majority banner.


• By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press


More in News

National Weather Service radar for the Kenai Peninsula and Southcentral Alaska on Aug. 17, 2022. (Screenshot)
Rain, rain and more rain

Low pressure systems drive wet conditions in Southcentral

Sockeye salmon return to Steep Creek to spawn. Alaska’s overall commercial salmon harvest across all species is currently up 15% from 2021 (2020 for pinks) with Bristol Bay and the Prince William Sound largely carrying the weight while other regions lag, according to data from the most recent Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute weekly salmon harvest update. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Statewide salmon harvest on the upswing compared to last year

Bristol Bay and Prince William Sound are mainly pulling the weight

Jake Dye / Peninsula Clarion
Congressional candidate Mary Peltola responds to a question during a forum at the Kenai Visitor Center on Aug. 3 in Kenai . Early Wednesday, Peltola had earned 38.4% of first-choice votes in a race that will determine who fills Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat until January.
Mary Peltola responds to a question during a forum at the Kenai Visitor Center on Aug. 3, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion/Jake Dye)
Democratic candidate Peltola leads U.S. House race early, but Palin may win in final count

Former governor and Republican U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin stands to benefit from ranked choice voting

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID hospitalizations on the rise

86 patients were hospitalized with 10 patients on ventilators

2022 gubernatorial candidate Charlie Pierce walks in the 65th annual Soldotna Progress Days Parade on Saturday, July 23, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Pierce among leaders in governor’s race

Incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy leads the pack overall

Braeden Garrett holds signs supporting Alaska House of Representatives candidate Justin Ruffridge at the intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Ruffridge, Babcock lead in early primary results

Unofficial preliminary primary election results showed significant margins between the first- and second-place candidates

Pollworkers Carol Louthan (center) and Harmony Bolden (right) work at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Local voters cast ballots, try out ranked choice

Locally, multiple candidates have their sights set on seats in the Alaska Legislature.

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka joins Donald Trump on stage during a rally at the Alaska Airlines Center on July 9, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Tshibaka is seeking to become one of four candidates to advance in the U.S. Senate race during Alaska’s primary election Tuesday, Aug. 16. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)
U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka joins Donald Trump on stage during a rally at the Alaska Airlines Center on July 9, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Tshibaka is seeking to become one of four candidates to advance in the U.S. Senate race during Alaska’s primary election Tuesday, Aug. 16. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)
Murkowski advances in Senate race, Palin in House

Kelly Tshibaka, her GOP rival endorsed by former President Donald Trump, was among the candidates bound for the November general election

Most Read