Election in District O, District 29 too close to call

Though the primary polls are closed, some of the races are too close to call until every last vote has been counted.

On the peninsula, three Legislature races are pending with the candidates separated by 30 votes or fewer. As of Wednesday afternoon, without absentee ballots counted, candidate Ron Gillham was leading the race for the Republican nomination in Senate District O over incumbent Peter Micciche by nine votes. In House District 29, candidate Wayne Ogle had a lead of only three votes over candidate Ben Carpenter for the Republican nomination in that race. In District 31, candidate Sarah Vance has a 30-vote lead over candidate John Cox for the Republican nomination.

On Tuesday, the Alaska Division of Elections counted early ballots cast through Monday and the first count of absentee ballots logged up to the Friday before. Next Tuesday, the division will count the early ballots voted on Aug. 21, will conduct a second count of absentee ballots in districts where voter history and duplicate voter checks are complete and the first count of questioned ballots.

The final count for the primary will be completed on Aug. 31, at which point all remaining absentee and questioned ballots will be counted.

There are a number of absentee, questioned and early ballots in both districts, and with the margins narrow, the races are too close to call yet.

According to the Division of Election, Micciche holds the lead among voters from Nikiski, Sterling and Seward while Gillham holds the edge in the Kenai/Soldotna area. Because there are no Democratic challengers in the District O race, the winner of the Republican primary will likely take the general election in November unchallenged.

In District 29, Ogle held the lead in the Nikiski and Funny River areas while Carpenter took the lead in Sterling, Cooper Landing, Moose Pass and Seward. The winner will face Democratic nominee Shawn Butler — who had no challengers in the Democratic primary — in the general election for the District 29 seat.

In District 31, Vance took the lead in Happy Valley, Ninilchik, Kasilof and Homer while Cox holds the edge in Anchor Point and Fritz Creek. The winner will face Democratic nominee Paul Seaton — who ran as a nonpartisan candidate in the Democratic primary this year after the Alaska Republican Party ousted him in response to his decision to join the bipartisan House Majority Caucus — in November.

Seaton said he was pleased with the number of people who turned out to vote for him in the primary. Seaton had 1,319 votes cast for him by the end of the night Tuesday, according to the preliminary results.

“I think there were a number of people who took the Republican ballot and nonpartisan,” he said.

Seaton said he’s now looking forward to continuing the campaign by being “open and transparent” with people and making the rounds in the debate and forum circuit.

“It’ll be interesting because the Republican Party has been advising some of their candidates not to participate in any debates or forums,” he said.

Vance, running in her first state election, mounted a social-media based campaign and did not provide interviews with the Homer News and KBBI public radio.

On election night she also did not return several phone calls seeking comment about the election.

The unofficial results of the gubernatorial race show a decisive victory for candidate Mike Dunleavy in most areas of the peninsula. Republican primary voters in every precinct in the central peninsula except Kenai number 3 favored Dunleavy. Dunleavy’s popularity waned on the southern and eastern peninsula, with the voters south of Kachemak Bay, in Seward and in Hope favoring candidate Mead Treadwell.

Homer News staff Michael Armstrong and Megan Pacer contributed reporting. Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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