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)

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

Kenai Peninsula residents got their first look Tuesday at which candidates will face off in Alaska’s 2022 general election.

Unofficial preliminary primary election results published by the Alaska Division of Elections late Tuesday showed significant margins between the first- and second-place candidates, with still more votes to be counted. The top four vote-getters in each race will advance to the general election in November. Because there are fewer than four candidates in local legislative races, all candidates will advance.

State Senate District D

Tuckerman Babcock took an early lead in the primary race for the central peninsula’s seat in the Alaska State Senate. Preliminary unofficial votes from the Division of Elections showed that the former chief of staff to Gov. Mike Dunleavy received about 50.41% of the roughly 7,800 votes counted as of 10:45 p.m.

Babcock said Tuesday that he thinks the votes cast in his favor reflect peninsula support for his conservative credentials and trust in him as a candidate. He said that primary season was about introducing himself as a candidate, but moving toward the general his focus will be on policy differences between him and his opponent, Jesse Bjorkman.

“It’s humbling to be in the lead,” Babcock said.

Bjorkman, a teacher at Nikiski Middle/High School who also serves on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, had received about 35.69% of votes at the same time.

Bjorkman said Tuesday that the results tell him that there are “lots of people” supporting his bid for the Alaska Legislature, despite the primary race being “low information.” A lot can change before November, Bjorkman said, adding that his focus moving forward will be on differentiating himself from his opponent.

“This race is still well within reach for the general election,” Bjorkman said.

Both Babcock and Bjorkman were followed by Andy Cizek, who received about 13.91% of votes cast.

State Senate District D, which includes the Kenai/Soldotna area and covers the northern half of the Kenai Peninsula with borders extended to above Tustumena Lake. That district is currently represented by Peter Micciche, who has said he will not run for reelection.

State House District 7

Justin Ruffridge pulled ahead of incumbent Rep. Ron Gillham late Tuesday in the race for the seat in the Alaska House that represents Kenai and Soldotna. Ruffridge, who currently serves on the Soldotna City Council, had clinched about 55.93% of the more than 3,300 votes counted at 10:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Ruffridge said Tuesday that he’s “super excited” about the results, which he said are a testament to the hard work put in by his campaign leading up to the primary. Between now and November, Ruffridge said he hopes to meet more people, but that he was “really impressed” by the voter turnout.

“I was just really happy to see how many people were engaged,” Ruffridge said. “It tells me that people have paid attention and they’re ready to make a choice.”

Gillham had secured about 44.07% of votes at 10:45 p.m. Tuesday. State House District 7 includes most of Kenai, Soldotna and Kalifornsky. Gillham could not be reached for comment before press time.

State House District 8 includes the Kenai Peninsula north of Tustumena Lake and east of Kasilof. It includes Bear Creek, but not Seward, which is in State House District 5 and State Senate District C. That district is currently represented by Ben Carpenter, who is running unopposed for reelection.

Unofficial election results can be found on the Alaska Division of Elections website at elections.alaska.gov/election-results.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Stickers are available for voters at the Kenai No. 1 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to hold ‘I Voted’ sticker design contest

City council members approved the program during their Wednesday night meeting

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of a bill increasing state funds for public education in the Alaska House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bill seeking to bump use of Alaska Performance Scholarship clears the House with unanimous support

The money is awarded to high-performing high school graduates to help pay for postsecondary education at participating institutions in Alaska

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

Travis Every, top left, speaks in support of fishing opportunity for the east side setnet fishery before the State Board of Fisheries at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local fishers talk conservation, opportunity before Board of Fisheries in Anchorage

Local fishers from the Kenai Peninsula traveled to Anchorage this weekend to… Continue reading

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman bill would pay bonuses to nationally certified teachers

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that the bonus program would apply to about 215 of Alaska’s estimated 7,315 teachers — about 3%

Alaska senators meet with members of the media to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

A map displays a wide-ranging special weather statement, published Tuesday by the National Weather Service, covering Southcentral Alaska. (Map courtesy of National Weather Service)
Strong winds, low wind chills forecast through Friday

Wind chills over night may reach as low as -20 to -40 degrees in much of Southcentral

Snow falls atop the Central Peninsula Diabetes Center in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. The office opened in October, but a grand opening was held this week. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital adds Diabetes Center

The center has been seeing patients since October and held a grand opening Monday

Gary Hollier pulls a sockeye salmon from a set gillnet at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Findings from pilot setnet fishery study inconclusive

The study sought to see whether shorter nets could selectively catch sockeye salmon while allowing king salmon to pass below

Most Read