Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai, talks to the media about his nomination for Speaker of the House in this February 2019 photo. Knopp died July, 31, in a plane crash near his home town. (Michael Penn/ Juneau Empire File)

Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai, talks to the media about his nomination for Speaker of the House in this February 2019 photo. Knopp died July, 31, in a plane crash near his home town. (Michael Penn/ Juneau Empire File)

Knopp’s name to remain on Aug. 18 primary ballot

Should he win, the Alaska Republican Party will be able to petition for a replacement candidate.

By Becky Bohrer

Associated Press

JUNEAU — The late-Rep. Gary Knopp’s name will appear on the Aug. 18 primary ballot, and should he win, the Alaska Republican Party will be able to petition for a replacement candidate, a Department of Law spokesperson said.

Knopp, a Kenai Republican who was seeking a third term in the state House, was among seven people killed in what authorities described as a midair collision Friday between two airplanes on the Kenai Peninsula. Knopp was a member of the House’s budget-writing committee and seen as a key figure in the formation of a bipartisan House majority in 2019, for which he faced criticism from members of his own party. The House majority, largely composed of Democrats, includes independents and some Republicans.

Early voting started Monday. Besides Knopp, the Republican primary for House District 30 includes Kelly Wolf and Ronald “Ron” Gillham. Should Knopp win the primary, Maria Bahr, a Department of Law spokesperson, noted that state law lays out a process by which the party can petition to have a replacement nominee on the November general election ballot. A non-affiliated candidate, James Baisden, already qualified for the general election, according to the Division of Elections’ website.

Meanwhile, arguments in a lawsuit alleging discrimination by state elections officials over the unprompted mailing of absentee ballot applications to voters 65 and older are not scheduled until after the primary. The complaint, which was transferred from state to federal court, initially sought to have applications sent to all registered voters for the primary and general elections. Jason Harrow, executive director and chief counsel with Equal Citizens, a group involved in the case, said the litigants have taken the state “at its word that there is no way to send out an additional large mailing of absentee ballot applications and process them in time for the primary election.”

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