Editor’s Note: As part of Homer News coverage leading up to the Aug. 16 primary, in this week’s edition we introduce the candidates running for the District 31 House seat and give their responses to a set of questions. The candidates were individually interviewed and asked the same questions, with responses edited for length. Next week, the candidates will have the opportunity to write on the issues of their choice. For additional questions and longer answers from the candidates, please go to HomerNews.Com.
After an election cycle in which he ran unopposed, Rep. Paul Seaton faces challenges to keep the District 31 Representative seat from fellow Republicans Homer Mayor Mary E. “Beth” Wythe and Anchor Point businessman John “Bear” Cox.
Seaton won election in 2000 the way Wythe and Cox hope to: By beating an incumbent in the primary, in his case the late Drew Scalzi. No Democrats or Independents have filed to run in the general election, so barring a Sen. Lisa Murkowski-like write-in campaign, the Republican Party primary on Aug. 16 will decide who represents the lower Kenai Peninsula and the Funny River area. Only voters registered as Republican, nonpartisan or undeclared can chose the Republican Party ballot.
Seeking an eighth term, Seaton drew attention in the last Alaska Legislature as part of the so-called Musk Ox Coalition when he helped pull together an oil-and-gas tax credit compromise with Tea Party Republicans and members of the Democratic Party minority. House Bill 247 addressed $430 million in the oil and gas tax fund that funds tax credits. That bill would have eliminated the state’s tax liability by 2021, but it fell apart when the Senate passed its own version, a plan Seaton said would leave the state vulnerable to a huge credit liability.
Seaton’s challenges to oil and gas tax credits have prompted an independent expenditure group to oppose him, “Wythe is Right! Seaton Must be Beaten.” With a $15,000 boost from another political action committee, The Accountability Project, it’s funding mailers and ads against Seaton. (For more on who’s funding the candidates, see story, page 1.)
While Wythe has gained support from business interests, Cox is challenging her for conservative votes. All three have been campaigning actively, with yard signs and appearances in events like July Fourth parades.
The candidates face off against each other in a debate Friday at the Homer Public Library and before the Homer Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 9.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.