Two Fairbanks races will garner the state’s attention on Tuesday. The race for House District 1 between Republican Bart LeBon and Democrat Kathryn Dodge (top) and the Senate District A race between Democrat Scott Kawasaki (bottom left) and Republican Senate President Pete Kelly (bottom right) could be decided by absentee and question ballots. (Composite photo)

Two Fairbanks races will garner the state’s attention on Tuesday. The race for House District 1 between Republican Bart LeBon and Democrat Kathryn Dodge (top) and the Senate District A race between Democrat Scott Kawasaki (bottom left) and Republican Senate President Pete Kelly (bottom right) could be decided by absentee and question ballots. (Composite photo)

Kawasaki clinches lone Democratic ‘flip’

Senate Seat A race appears decided; House District 1 is still unclear

Update: Kawasaki’s lead is 173 votes, not 186 as first reported by Division of Elections workers.

Scott Kawasaki appeared to clinch the only Democratic “flip” of the 2018 election in Alaska on Friday when he took a 173-vote lead over Senate President Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, as absentee ballots were tallied in the race for Senate District A.

Kawasaki, who has represented House District 1 in the Alaska House of Representatives, left the House to challenge Kelly for Senate this year. Kawasaki trailed after Election Day, but a count of early and question ballots on Tuesday gave him a lead.

Though early-arriving absentee ballots favored Kelly, late-arriving ones favored Kawaski, allowing him to preserve his advantage.

The number of outstanding ballots in the race is less than Kawasaki’s lead today, meaning the Democrat has won the race, barring some other factor.

The race for Kawasaki’s old seat in the House appears to remain uncertain. Republican Bart LeBon led Democrat Kathryn Dodge after Election Day, but Dodge took a 10-vote lead after Tuesday’s count. LeBon regained the lead in Friday’s count. He now holds a five-vote advantage.

Some votes remain to be counted: Wednesday is the deadline for absentee ballots mailed from international addresses to arrive in Alaska. If those ballots were postmarked on or before Election Day, they will be counted.

In addition, the race is well within the margin for a state-paid recount. After the recount, either candidate could escalate the matter to the Alaska Court System.

In 2016, the primary race for House District 40 was decided in such a manner. Democrat Benjamin Nageak was challenged by fellow Democrat Dean Westlake. Westlake led Nageak by four votes after the initial count, then by eight votes after a recount. Superior Court Judge Andrew Guidi overturned that result and awarded the race to Nageak. The Alaska Supreme Court took up a subsequent appeal and declared Westlake the winner.

This year’s races in Senate District A and House District 1 have been closely watched because of their wider implications.

At the end of Election Day, the former House Republican Minority appeared to control 21 seats in the 40-person Alaska House of Representatives. That’s the bare minimum needed to control the House, and it includes LeBon.

The former coalition majority in the House lost one independent member, Rep. Jason Grenn, I-Anchorage, and one Republican member, Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, on Election Day. Democrats gained no seats held by another party.

The 20-member Senate is more firmly in the hands of a Republican-led majority, but if Kelly’s loss is certified, Democrats would hold seven seats in the body. If they join with moderate Republicans, the resulting coalition majority could have enough support to control the chamber.

More in News

Tone and Charles Deehr in Fairbanks, October 2021. Both photos courtesy Charles Deehr. 3. (Courtesy Photo / Charles Deehr)
Alaska Science Forum: Red aurora rare enough to be special

In decades of sky-watching in the north, he has seen a few red auroras, but not many.

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
COVID at a glance for Thursday, Oct. 14

The most recent state and local figures

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday, Oct. 15, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The Juneau Police Department will hold a drug take-back day on Oct. 23, 2021 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., said the police in a news release. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Police to hold drug take-back day on Oct. 23

Last take-back event, the DEA collected 420 tons of unused or unwanted prescription medication.

Then-Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho, left, and former Juneau Representative Bill Hudson, right, speak with John Torgerson, chairman of the Alaska Redistricting Board during a break in hearing public testimony at the Capitol Wednesday, April 20, 2011.  Alaska’s state flags were lowered Thursday for longtime Alaska lawmaker, Hudson, who died Oct. 11. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
‘A large legacy’: Hudson remembered for dedication to Juneau and the state

Alaska’s state flags were lowered Thursday for longtime Alaska lawmaker Bill Hudson.

The author photographs one of the numerous bull moose he and his wife saw on an elk hunt in Wyoming. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
I Went to the Woods: Desired vs. realized success

No elk taken, but it’s nothing to grouse about.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This photo shows gray currents, also called stink currants, Vivian Mork photographer. (Vivian Mork Yeilk’ / For the Capital City Weekly)
Planet Alaska: Picking currants and riding currents

We give respect and thanks to the berries and the birds as we harvest the last of the berries.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File
A Coast Guard aircrew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk, like the one shown in this June photo, rescued a man from a stricken vessel in the Gulf of Alaska on Oct. 11, 2021.
Coast Guard rescues man from disabled vessel

The sailboat was southbound in the Gulf of Alaska

Most Read