Election official Erin Petrie sanitizes a ballot privacy sleeve during the Primary Election on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020 at the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center polling location in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Election official Erin Petrie sanitizes a ballot privacy sleeve during the Primary Election on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020 at the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center polling location in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Sen. Gary Stevens wins primary election

Incumbent Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) has emerged victorious from the Republican Primary after several days of waiting for absentee ballots to be counted before a close race could be called.

Stevens trailed his challenger, John Cox of Anchor Point, by 69 votes after election night on Aug. 18. However, the Alaska Division of Elections did not begin counting absentee ballots right away. Questioned, mail-in, online, and early in-person ballots were tallied earlier this week, and the division released official election results on Tuesday.

Stevens won the primary for Senate District P in the Republican Party with 2,105 votes, 244 votes ahead of Cox, who received 1,861.

“Well, I’ve got to tell you it’s pretty humbling to have that close of an election,” Stevens said.

Stevens initially trailed Cox by 69 votes. Then, after absentee ballots began to be counted, the margin flip flopped and Stevens was ahead by that number.

Stevens said he’s pleased with the outcome and that the election has been settled. He now turns his focus to campaigning for the General Election in November. He faces Soldotna’s Greg Madden, running in the Alaska Independence Party, in the general. Madden, who ran unopposed in that party got 2,284 votes on the combined Democratic Party and Alaska Independence Party primary ballot.

According to the Alaska Division of Elections, about 4,100 votes were cast in Senate District P in the Republican Primary, for a voter turnout of about 13%. The voter turnout for the combined Democratic Party and Alaska Independence Party ballot in District P was 10.8%.

Statewide, the division reported that about 70,000 votes were cast in the Republican Primary and about 63,500 were cast in the combined Alaska Independence Party and Democratic Party Primary.

Rep. Sarah Vance (R-Homer) ran unopposed in the Republican Primary to keep her District 31 seat in the Alaska House of Representatives. She received 2,417 votes, and the voter turnout for District 31 was 16%.

Vance will face Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly President and business owner Kelly Cooper, who is running as an Independent, in the general.

Stevens said he was a bit disappointed with the voter turnout for Districts 31 and 32, which make up Senate District P.

“It was pretty small both on the peninsula side and the Kodiak side,” he said.

Stevens said the turnout does tend to be lower for primary elections and that he hopes it’ll be better in the general.

He also spoke to the restrictions the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic put on campaigning.

“It was really frustrating,” he said of not being able to hold larger events or go door-to-door like candidates normally would.

Going forward, Stevens said his campaign plans to hold more virtual events to allow voters to connect with him that way. He especially wants to hear from voters what they want included in this year’s budget, he said.

“The issues are so big, when we’ve got limited funding right now and our revenues are down so seriously,” Stevens said.

He wants to hear what people want. If it’s a larger Permanent Fund Dividend payment, then he wants to know which state services voters would be OK seeing cuts be made to.

Statewide, in the races for the Congressional Delegation, Sen. Dan Sullivan got 65,257 votes in his unopposed race in the Republican Party. His major challenger, Dr. Al Gross, won the Democratic Primary with 50,047 votes, running as a nonpartisan.

In the race for U.S. Representative, Rep. Don Young won the Republican primary with 51,972 votes, over challengers John Nelson and Gerald Heikes. Young’s major challenger Alyse Galvin won the Democratic Primary, where she got 53,258 votes running as a nonpartisan against two challengers.

For full election results, visit elections.alaska.gov/results/20PRIM/index.php

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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