Absentee ballots have flipped the outcome for the House district 35 race to represent Petersburg, Sitka and other island communities of Southeast Alaska.
Alaska’s Division of Elections reported the results from thousands of absentee ballots from the district Wednesday.
Incumbent democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins of Sitka now holds a lead of 1,728 votes. He trailed Republican challenger Kenny Karl Skaflestad of Hoonah in the in-person ballots after election day. Now it looks like Kreiss-Tomkins will retain the seat he’s held since 2013. He has just over 59 percent of the votes cast.
As of Thursday, Skaflestad hadn’t contacted Kreiss-Tomkins yet to congratulate him but said that he would.
“I am awestruck by the voting percentage from our district,” Skaflestad said by phone Thursday. “It appears that we have chosen to re-elect an incumbent. I am humbled by the support and encouragement and advice from those that voted on my side of the ticket. I hope they remain exuberant and voiceful with the representative on the issues before us.”
As of Thursday, the Division of Elections had 677 absentee ballots left to count for the district, not enough to flip the seat back to the challenger even if all those votes went to Skaflestad.
Kreiss-Tomkins was expecting the boost of absentee votes following the initial results from election day.
“I’m excited to go back and do my best to represent the Southeast island communities and as I have been in past years fully committed to balancing the budget and making the hard decisions necessary to do that and protecting the integrity of the permanent fund,” Kreiss-Tomkins said by phone from Anchorage. “These are, at this point, feel like perennial issues and I remain unwavering in my commitment to try to get them solved in a way that’s fiscally responsible and takes a long-term view.”
He calls it a “half-decent chance” that there will be a bi-partisan coalition in the Alaska House again in January, depending on the final outcome of other legislative races.
Turnout for House district 35 was high this year, with just over 60 percent of registered voters completing ballots.