Sarah Vance holds a slim lead in the Republican Primary for the District 31 Alaska House of Representatives race, according to preliminary Tuesday night election results.
Vance held a lead of just 30 votes over John Cox — 1,033 to 1,003 —by the end of Tuesday night. Still to be counted are about 250 absentee, early voting and other ballots.
“This particular race between us is neck and neck,” Cox said Tuesday. “It’s tough. This is a nail biter.”
Cox had been trailing all night, and just before the last precinct reported, he had been down 80 votes. When the last of nine precincts came in, that lead narrowed.
“It’s amazing how fast I pulled up out of that hole,” Cox said. “…We still have hope here.”
Cox won the Anchor Point and Kachemak-Fritz Creek precincts, while Vance won in all other precincts. In Anchor Point, Cox had 210 votes to 160 for Vance. Vance had her strongest showing in the Homer No. 1 and No. 2 precincts, winning 147 to 128 over Cox in Homer No. 1 and 127 to 91 in Homer No. 2. In the Fox River precinct she had a one-vote lead, 28 to 27 votes. Other precincts also were close. In the Kasilof precinct, Vance led Cox 146 to 141 votes, in the Ninilchik precinct 106 to 101 votes and in Diamond Ridge 50 to 47 votes.
Henry “Hank” Kroll of Kasilof finished third in the GOP race, with 14.85 percent of the vote. Vance had 43.20 percent and Cox had 41.95 percent in unofficial results.
Rep. Paul Seaton ran in the Democratic Primary as a nonpartisan candidate, and the only candidate in that primary for District 31. He will face off in the general election against whoever comes out on top of the Republican Primary. Seaton said he was pleased with the number of people who turned out to vote for him in the primary. Seaton had 1,319 votes cast for him by the end of the night Tuesday, according to the preliminary results.
“I think there were a number of people who took the Republican ballot and nonpartisan,” he said.
On election day, Seaton and a half-dozen supporters waved at evening commuters as they drove by the corner of Lake Street and Pioneer Avenue. Seaton said he’s now looking forward to continuing the campaign by being “open and transparent” with people and making the rounds in the debate and forum circuit.
“It’ll be interesting because the Republican Party has been advising some of their candidates not to participate in any debates or forums,” he said.
Vance, running in her first state election, mounted a social-media based campaign, sidestepping interviews with the Homer News and KBBI public radio. On election night she also did not return several phone calls seeking comment about the election.
District 31 Republican Party Chair Nona Safra said all three candidates in the GOP primary ran strong campaigns.
“I think each of the candidates spoke well about what their assets are, as far as what they bring and how they relate to their constituency,” she said on Tuesday night.
Going into the general election, Safra said the Republican Party is committed to defeating Seaton. Either Cox or Vance will be a good candidate, she said.
“We’re really looking forward to rallying behind the candidate the voters have selected when it comes to tomorrow,” she said, “That person will be the one to defeat Paul Seaton based upon his record.”
Safra said Seaton might have been in tune with the people 16 years ago, but not today. “It’s time to unseat him,” she said. “I’m very happy to back either one of them and bring all of our resources to make sure that seat stays Republican.”
The final tabulation of ballots is Sept. 4.
Reach Michael Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org.