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Thomas requests recount in tight House election

Results were certified with opponent up by 34 votes last week

Posted: November 28, 2012 - 3:37pm  |  Updated: November 29, 2012 - 1:08am

Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, formally requested a recount Wednesday in the close-fought Alaska House of Representatives race in which he trails Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins by 34 votes.

The Alaska Division of Elections certified the result in House District 34, a seat that encompasses Sitka, Haines, Angoon, Craig, Metlakatla and several other Southeast Alaska communities, last Friday. Thomas had until 5 p.m. Wednesday to request a recount.

“I have a lot of people asking me to go forward with it,” Thomas said Wednesday, after Elections Director Gail Fenumiai announced that a recount would take place.

The recount will take place at 9 a.m. Monday in Juneau, at the Director’s Office of the Division of Elections downtown.

“All ballots during a recount are scanned using the optical scan units,” wrote Fenumiai in an email.

Thomas said he will be in Texas Monday, rendering him unable to attend the recount.

The result of Thomas’ 2004 election was also settled only after votes were recounted. Thomas was ultimately certified as the victor by 59 votes.

Reacting by email Wednesday to the decision to recount ballots, Kreiss-Tomkins wrote, “Thank goodness this is the final hurdle for an otherwise epic election.”

Kreiss-Tomkins added, referring to the 1962 adventure film famous for its three-and-a-half-hour length, “We just about make ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ look like (a) 30-second television spot by comparison.”

The matchup between Kreiss-Tomkins and Thomas was made possible by redistricting, which placed Thomas in the new House District 34 together with Sitka, a Democratic-leaning city that is the new district’s largest population center.

Sitka was formerly represented in the House by Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, whose new District 33 encompasses the City and Borough of Wrangell, Ketchikan Gateway Borough and northern Prince of Wales Island.

The Division of Elections also certified the results of all races in the Nov. 6 general election Wednesday.

In addition to the District 34 race, one other race has not been finalized.

Republican Bob Bell said Monday that he wants a recount in his race against Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, in Senate District J. Bell trailed by 51 votes as of last Friday.

That recount takes place today in Juneau.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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