JUNEAU — Republican Bob Bell said Monday that he will seek a recount in his race against Anchorage Democratic Sen. Hollis French.
Ballot counting from this month’s general election stretched into last week. When the race was certified Friday, it showed French with a 51-vote advantage, 7,593 to 7,542.
“If 26 people voted the other way, it changes the election,” Bell told The Associated Press on Monday. “So we think that’s close enough. A lot of people spent a lot of time and effort on this campaign, and I think we have an obligation to make sure.”
French said Bell was well within his rights to request a recount, and he said he’d probably request one, too, if he were in Bell’s position. But French said he doesn’t think the results will change much once the recount is complete.
The race was one of the most expensive and contentious Alaska Senate races this year, with French among the incumbents targeted for defeat by Republicans who wanted to break up the Senate’s bipartisan majority, of which he was a part. The GOP picked up seats in the Senate and seized control of the chamber the day after the election. Republicans now control both chambers of the Legislature and hold the governor’s office.
Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said a recount must take place within five days of receipt of the recount request. She expected any recount in the race to take a day. The difference in votes cast for each candidate falls within the margin under which the state pays for the cost of the recount.
Wednesday is the deadline to request a recount. The other race in which this might be an issue is between Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, and political newcomer Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, a Democrat from Sitka. Kreiss-Tomkins was up by 34 votes when the race was certified Friday, 4,125 to 4,091.
Kreiss-Tomkins, on his Facebook page last Wednesday, said he considers himself “a Representative-elect,” and praised Thomas for his service, saying he had left an “impressive legacy for our communities.” Thomas did not immediately return a message left at his office Monday.