With all precincts counted and absentee ballots remaining to be tallied, Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, and Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, hold strong leads and appear headed to re-election victories.
In the Senate District C race, Stevens is prevailing against Heath Smith, R-Homer, and Walter Jones, R-Anchor Point. Stevens leads with 6,010 votes or 55.24% to 3,539 votes or 32.53% for Smith and 1,256 or 11.55% for Jones.
For the House District 6 race, Vance has 4,164 or 53.86% to Louie Flora with 3,306 or 42.76% and Ginger Bryant with 248 or 3.21%.
Under Alaska’s ranked choice voting process, if Stevens and Vance hold on to a majority of more than 50%, they will win the election outright.
“I’m pleased with that,” Stevens said of the preliminary results on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, Stevens said he was glad to not have to wait until Nov. 23 like candidates who got less than 50% and have to wait for the second round in Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system.
“That’s quite a lot less stressful,” he said.
Before redistricting required all but one senator to run for re-election, Stevens had anticipated retiring after the last two years of his previous term. Redistricting meant that he had to stand for another four years. Stevens said earlier this would be his last term if elected.
“I think I’ve done a good job representing the district, and hope to continue doing my best,” he said. “I believe when you’re elected, you represent everyone in our district, whether they voted for you or not, whether they’re children or not. You try to do your best.”
Organization of the State Senate has already started, Stevens said, and he was in Anchorage on Wednesday to start working on that. He said it’s premature to say how the Senate would be organized along party lines.
“I think we will have a good idea what the Senate organization will look like in the next week,” Stevens said. “… (There are) lots of talks going on, lots of concerns and lots of interest by various people in playing different roles and different jobs. We’re trying to work together and see what’s best.”
Stevens also said it’s too early to say if he will be Senate President.
“Anything is possible. Nobody knows until we do a press release,” he said.
Smith, a former Homer City Council member, wrote in an email that he had been grateful for the opportunity to run for the State Senate.
“The tremendous support I received and friendships I’ve made around the District have enriched my life,” he wrote. “The voters have spoken and we are now relegated to four more years of what has happened the last twenty-two from our current senator in relationship to a long-term fiscal policy … nothing! If we don’t have a policy that frames our spending, it won’t matter how much revenue we take in, or steal. There will never be enough. I guess it’s back to watching season 23 of ‘The Binding Caucus Capers.’”
In the District 6 House race, Vance on Tuesday sent a text saying, “I remain hopeful for a victory when the final tally of votes come in.”
That hope played out when she held on to her lead, although it dropped about 8% from early results. Still, she held on to a solid majority. Vance was in meetings on Wednesday and unable to do an interview.
Flora conceded to Vance on Wednesday.
“The trends are there,” he said. “There’s no way to come back from where I’m at.”
On Tuesday evening, Pioneer Avenue from Lake Street to Heath Street had bands of spirited campaigners. Flora and his family and friends held the Lake Street corner while Vance, Smith and other Republicans waved signs at WKFL Park. A smaller group on the opposite corner campaigned for Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola, D-Alaska, in her re-election campaign.
Flora said he saw a positive note in the Lower 49 election, where an anticipated red wave of Republican Party victories didn’t play out. According to the New York Times, Republicans held a lead and a chance of winning the U.S. House, while the U.S. Senate races remained in play and too close to call.
“The fact that it wasn’t a complete red wave, a wave against the incumbent administration, to me provides some indication that the country is moderating its views around the path forward,” Flora said.
Flora said he plans to run again in 2024 against Vance, and that he saw this campaign as “building infrastructure” for 2024.
“We ran a fairly strong campaign on digital media,” he said. “We fundraised really well. … I’ve been looking at this as a four-year contest all along.”
On issues he heard, Flora said voters mentioned inflation, the cost of energy, affordable housing and senior issues.
“Affordable housing, that’s the main thing I’ve heard — affordable worker housing,” Flora said.
Like Vance, Flora will go to Juneau, but in his capacity working for the Alaska Center, an environmental advocacy group. He’ll work on energy issues, including looking at putting into state law community solar that will allow people who can’t participate in net metering for home or business solar systems to have the option to buy into community solar.
On Tuesday while waving signs, Vance said the District 6 campaign had been civil. Flora agreed with that.
“I told Sarah early on it’s not in my nature to run a really negative campaign,” he said. “I don’t think Sarah herself has run a personal negative campaign. … I’m going to hopefully meet with Sarah and have have coffee before she goes to Juneau. I plan to maintain civil relations. I think she’s a nice person.”
Senate District C, 21 of 21 precincts reporting
Walter H. Jones, Republican, Anchor Point: 1,256, 11.55%
Heath Smith, Republican, Homer: 3,539, 32.53%
Gary Stevens, Republican, Kodiak, incumbent, 6,010, 55.24%
House District 6, 9 of 9 precincts reporting
Ginger Bryant, nonpartisan, Homer, 248, 3.21%
Louie Flora, nonpartisan, Homer, 3,306, 42.76%