Alaska House control fate remains unsettled with race tied

Democrat Kathryn Dodge and Republican Bart LeBon both have 2,661 votes, a tally that didn’t change after Friday’s review in Juneau

This Sept. 13, 2012 photo shows Kathryn Dodge, a candidate for the Alaska House District 1 seat in Fairbanks. Dodge, a Democrat, is tied with Republican Bart LeBon, and the race could go to a recount on Nov. 30 if officials decide to discard an absentee ballot that came in with no other supporting documentation to determine whether it was legally cast. (Sam Harrel | Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

This Sept. 13, 2012 photo shows Kathryn Dodge, a candidate for the Alaska House District 1 seat in Fairbanks. Dodge, a Democrat, is tied with Republican Bart LeBon, and the race could go to a recount on Nov. 30 if officials decide to discard an absentee ballot that came in with no other supporting documentation to determine whether it was legally cast. (Sam Harrel | Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

ANCHORAGE — A Fairbanks race that will decide control of the Alaska House of Representatives could be the subject of a recount after an audit of about 600 absentee ballots didn’t break a tie Friday.

Democrat Kathryn Dodge and Republican Bart LeBon both have 2,661 votes, a tally that didn’t change after Friday’s review in Juneau.

Election officials are also reviewing the legality of one ballot that has not been counted.

The ballot was enclosed in a secrecy sleeve, but there was no supporting documentation with it to determine whether it was legally cast. Officials didn’t immediately have a timetable when they would rule whether to count the ballot or discard it.

Dodge said she has not seen the ballot and doesn’t know who it was cast for.

LeBon wasn’t aware of this ballot, but he sees the race going to a recount whether or not it’s counted.

“I would be shocked if it didn’t,” he said by phone from Fairbanks. “One of us is going to pick up a vote, I would guess, and the other one will ask for a recount.”

The recount would be held Nov. 30. If the tie isn’t broken then, the winner will be chosen by lot, with the actual process — such as a coin flip — to be decided by Josie Bahnke, the state’s election director.

“I would say that what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t expect things to change much in a recount,” Dodge told The Associated Press by phone from Juneau, where she watched the audit.

She also has no preference on how a winner would be determined by lot if it come to that, but added with a laugh: “I prefer not to have to do that.”

The stakes are high in the outcome of this race: If LeBon wins, the GOP will have a majority in the 40-member body and put Republicans in control of both chambers and the governor’s office.

But if Dodge emerges as the winner, there will be a 20-20 tie, and the horse-trading will have to begin for one side to woo someone to secure a majority.

The House race is to replace Rep. Scott Kawasaki, a Fairbanks Democrat who gave up his seat to successfully challenge Senate President Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican.

The close contest between Dodge and LeBon has gone back and forth since the Nov. 6 election.

LeBon held a five-vote lead over Dodge until Wednesday, when Election Day ballots and those cast in early voting were audited. That process gave Dodge six additional votes and LeBon one.

LeBon said the way the week has unfolded, the discovery of the ballot in the secrecy sleeve doesn’t shock him. “And it would not surprise me if that vote was for Kathryn Dodge. That’s the way my last few days have gone,” he said.

Republicans had already claimed control of the House when it appeared LeBon was in the lead. That move, current House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, a Dillingham Democrat, warned was premature.

The division has targeted Monday to certify the election.


• Mark Thiessen is an Associated Press reporter.


This July 18 photo shows Bart LeBon, a candidate for the Alaska House District 1 seat in Fairbanks. LeBon, a Republican, is tied with Democrat Kathryn Dodge, and the race could go to a recount on Nov. 30 if officials decide to discard an absentee ballot that came in with no other supporting documentation to determine whether it was legally cast. (Eric Engman | Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

This July 18 photo shows Bart LeBon, a candidate for the Alaska House District 1 seat in Fairbanks. LeBon, a Republican, is tied with Democrat Kathryn Dodge, and the race could go to a recount on Nov. 30 if officials decide to discard an absentee ballot that came in with no other supporting documentation to determine whether it was legally cast. (Eric Engman | Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

More in Home

A waterfront view of Marine Parking Garage with the windows of the Juneau Public Library visible on the top floor. “Welcome” signs in several languages greet ships on the dock pilings below. (Laurie Craig / For the Juneau Empire)
The story of the Marine Parking Garage: Saved by the library

After surviving lawsuit by Gold Rush-era persona, building is a modern landmark of art and function.

Newly elected tribal leaders are sworn in during the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s 89th annual Tribal Assembly on Thursday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Photo courtesy of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
New council leaders, citizen of year, emerging leader elected at 89th Tribal Assembly

Tlingit and Haida President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson elected unopposed to sixth two-year term.

Current facilities operated by the private nonprofit Gastineau Human Services Corp. include a halfway house for just-released prisoners, a residential substance abuse treatment program and a 20-bed transitional living facility. (Gastineau Human Services Corp. photo)
Proposed 51-unit low-income, long-term housing project for people in recovery gets big boost from Assembly

Members vote 6-2 to declare intent to provide $2M in budget to help secure $9.5M more for project.

A troller plies the waters of Sitka Sound in 2023. (Photo by Max Graham)
Alaska Senate proposes $7.5 million aid package for struggling fish processors

The Alaska Senate has proposed a new aid package for the state’s… Continue reading

Members of the Alaska House of Representatives watch as votes are tallied on House Bill 50, the carbon storage legislation, on Wednesday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House, seeking to boost oil and gas business, approves carbon storage bill

Story votes yes, Hannan votes no as governor-backed HB 50 sent to the state Senate for further work.

An illustration depicts a planned 12-acre education campus located on 42 acres in Juneau owned by the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, which was announced during the opening of its annual tribal assembly Wednesday. (Image courtesy of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
Tribal education campus, cultural immersion park unveiled as 89th annual Tlingit and Haida Assembly opens

State of the Tribe address emphasizes expanding geographical, cultural and economic “footprint.”

An aerial view of downtown Juneau. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Task force to study additional short-term rental regulations favored by Juneau Assembly members

Operator registration requirement that took effect last year has 79% compliance rate, report states.

Cheer teams for Thunder Mountain High School and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé perform a joint routine between quarters of a Feb. 24 game between the girls’ basketball teams of both schools. It was possibly the final such local matchup, with all high school students scheduled to be consolidated into JDHS starting during the next school year. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
State OKs school district’s consolidation plan; closed schools cannot reopen for at least seven years

Plans from color-coded moving boxes to adjusting bus routes well underway, district officials say.

Most Read