Election Coverage

TIED UP: Port Alexander ballots close gap in HD34

Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (left) and Haines Republican Rep. Bill Thomas (right).

The tightest legislative race in Alaska just got tighter. Haines Republican Rep. Bill Thomas and Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins are now in a dead heat in the contest to represent District 34 in the Alaska House. And there are still more ballots to count by the time it’s all over on Wednesday.

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On Friday morning, Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said her office counted two question ballots from Port Alexander. Both went to Kreiss-Tomkins. He was trailing Thomas by two votes after more than 2,100 absentee ballots were counted earlier in the week.

But the vote counting isn’t over. Fenumiai said at least 85 absentee ballots will be counted Monday and there’s a potential for up to 128 more to be received in time for the final vote count on Wednesday.

At that point, Kreiss-Tomkins said he anticipates a recount.

“Yeah, with anything this close it would make sense to have maximum diligence,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.

Thomas agreed that a recount is likely.

If the two men are tied after the final vote count, the state automatically schedules and pays for a recount, according to Fenumiai. She says if less than 20 votes — or a half of percentage point — separate the two candidates, then the defeated candidate can officially request a recount to be paid for by the state. If there is a wider margin of difference, the candidate behind on votes can request a recount, but must pay a deposit.

Related story: This isn’t the first time something like this has happened.

In the meantime, Kreiss-Tomkins said he’s home in Sitka trying to stay upbeat about the long process.

“We’re just having a whole lot of fun right now just because it’s, I mean this calendar of vote counting just couldn’t be scheduled in more of a maximumly entertaining fashion,” he said. “So we’re pleased to be the source of such quality electoral entertainment.”

Thomas on the other hand, doesn’t see a bright side in all this. He’s still disappointed in the loss of representation for the district among House committees and leadership. Without a clear winner in the race, the Republicans assigned committees and chairs without Thomas, who served as co-chair of Finance the last two years.

“What’s sad is we lost the co-chair of the House Finance for Southeast,” Thomas said. “And I don’t know if there’s any way to recover from that and I don’t we’ll ever be able to.”

Kriess-Tomkins says the ongoing vote counting does makes it challenging for him to either move on from the election or make plans for a move to Juneau.

“I’m sort of in the background, having conversations with potential staffing hires, trying to learn ins and outs about legislative approvals and offices, session dates, calendars, that kind of stuff,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.

Meanwhile, Thomas says he’s occasionally going in to his legislative office in Haines, but otherwise hunkered down at home, awaiting results and working on next season’s fishing gear.

“Right now I’m sitting here tying halibut gear,” he said. “Life goes on.”

 

16HD34                                                                 

Package 2:40                                                      Friedenauer, KHNS, 11/16/12

 

Intro:
The tightest legislative race in Alaska just got tighter. Haines Republican Bill Thomas and Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins are now in a dead heat in the contest to represent District 34 in the Alaska House. And there are still more ballots to count by the time it’s all over on Wednesday.

Margaret Friedenauer of KHNS has more.

Report:
On (Friday morning), Division of Election’s director Gail Fenumiai (Fenoo-me-eye) said the office counted two question ballots from Port Alexander. Both went to Kreiss-Tomkins. He was trailing Thomas by two votes after more than 2,100 absentee ballots were counted earlier (this) week.

But the vote counting isn’t over. Fenumiai said at least 85 absentee ballots will be counted (Monday) and there’s a potential for up to 128 more to be received in time for the final vote count on (Wednesday.)

At that point, Kreiss-Tomkins said he anticipates a recount.

5 seconds “Yeah, with anything this close it would make sense to have maximum diligence.”

Thomas agreed that a recount is likely.

If the two men are tied after the final vote count, the state automatically schedules and pays for a recount, according to Fenumiai. She says if less than 20 votes – or a half of percentage point – separate the two candidates then the defeated candidate can officially request a recount and it will be paid for by the state. If there is a wider margin of difference, the candidate behind on votes can request a recount, but must pay a deposit.

In the meantime, Kreiss-Tomkins said he’s home in Sitka trying to stay upbeat about the long process.

19 seconds “We’re just having a whole lot of fun right now just because it’s, I mean this calendar of vote counting just couldn’t be scheduled in more of a maximumlly entertaining fashion. So we’re pleased to be the source of such quality electoral entertainment.”

Thomas on the other hand, doesn’t see a bright side in all this. He’s still disappointed in the loss of representation for the district among House committees and leadership. Without a clear winner in the race, the Republicans assigned committees and chairs without Thomas, who served as co-chair of Finance the last two years.

 8 seconds “What’s sad is we lost the co-chair of the House Finance for Southeast. And I don’t know if there’s any way to recover from that and I don’t we’ll ever be able to.”

Kriess-Tomkins says the ongoing vote counting does makes it challenging for him to either move on from the election or make plans for a move to Juneau.

17 seconds “I’m sort of in the background, having conversations with potential staffing hires, trying to learn ins and outs about legislative approvals and offices, session dates, calendars, that kind of stuff.”

Meanwhile, Thomas says he’s occasionally going in to his legislative office in Haines, but otherwise hunkered down at home, awaiting results and working on next season’s fishing gear.

4 seconds.  “Right now I’m sitting here tying halibut gear. Life goes on.”

We’ll be updating our KHNS News Facebook page as we get results from the Division of Elections on Monday.

Reporting in Haines, I’m Margaret Friedenauer.

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