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Senate majority, Young's 21st term at stake

Posted: November 6, 2012 - 10:23am
U.S. Congressman Don Young, R-Alaska, makes his point during a candidate forum with Alaska Rep. Sharon Cissna, D-Anchorage, during the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Fairbanks on Oct. 16.  Sam Harrel / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Sam Harrel / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
U.S. Congressman Don Young, R-Alaska, makes his point during a candidate forum with Alaska Rep. Sharon Cissna, D-Anchorage, during the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Fairbanks on Oct. 16.

ANCHORAGE — Alaska voters on Tuesday will determine whether Republicans take control of both houses of the state Legislature.

Voters also will decide if U.S. Rep. Don Young will get a 21st term in the U.S. House, if the state should call a constitutional convention and whether to approve nearly a half-billion dollars in bonds for statewide projects, including the troubled Port of Anchorage.

The lack of a U.S. Senate or gubernatorial race could affect voter turnout. The August primary election attracted only 25 percent of registered voters, the lowest turnout for a primary in a decade.

The biggest focus this election has been on state Senate races. The 20-member Senate is currently ruled by a bipartisan coalition comprised of 10 Democrats and six Republicans.

The Senate the past two years has blocked efforts by Gov. Sean Parnell to pass bills lowering taxes on oil companies operating in the state. Parnell’s says oil companies will take the money they are saving in taxes and invest in new production.

But members of the coalition wants assurances that oil companies will invest that money, and favor giving rebates for investments made.

Because of redistricting, nearly every Senate seat is up for election this year, and Parnell and other Republicans have worked hard to break up the coalition in this election.

Young, 79, was first elected to the U.S. House in 1973 in a special election following the death of U.S. Rep. Nick Begich. Young, a Republican, is looking to hold off Democrat Sharon Cissna of Anchorage, a state House member who has raised little money in the statewide contest.

Alaskans also will vote on whether to issue $453 million in bonds for statewide transportation projects. If approved, the Port of Anchorage — where 90 percent of goods coming into Alaska arrive — will receive $50 million. A port expansion project has been plagued by cost overruns and construction problems. A draft review of whether the expansion project can be built as designed won’t be released until Friday, three days after the election.

After every Census, voters are asked whether to call a constitutional convention, where changes to the five-decade old document could be considered. One supporter is former Attorney General John Havelock, but the League of Women Voters opposes calling a convention, saying there is an amendment process already in place to change the constitution.

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