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Kreiss-Tomkins wins seat by 32 votes

House challenger confirmed to have ousted Thomas after recount

Posted: December 3, 2012 - 4:34pm  |  Updated: December 4, 2012 - 1:05am
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Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins receives recount totals from Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai after he held his lead in Monday's recount against Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, in the race for House District 34.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins receives recount totals from Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai after he held his lead in Monday's recount against Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, in the race for House District 34.

A recount in the close House District 34 election conducted Monday confirmed Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins as the winner of the election, marking a pickup for Democrats in Southeast Alaska.

The recount, which was requested by Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, wrapped up just before 1 p.m. Monday. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins’ 34-vote margin of victory over Thomas was shaved to 32 votes after the recount, as Thomas picked up seven new votes and Kreiss-Tomkins added five.

“Not a whole lot changed,” said Elections Director Gail Fenumiai. “When one would gain, another would gain.”

Speaking Monday afternoon by phone from the Lower 48, where he is visiting his wife’s family, Thomas said he will not contest the results any further.

That means the vote totals for the district, which encompasses Sitka as well as much of rural Southeast Alaska, including the communities of Haines, Angoon, Craig and Metlakatla, are final.

“No, we don’t plan to do anything,” said Thomas. “We’ll accept the results and we’ll go forward from there.”

Kreiss-Tomkins, who attended the recount as an observer, said he is pleased to be finished with it.

“It’s nice to have a point of punctuation at the end of the election,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.

While recounts usually do not change the outcome of elections, Kreiss-Tomkins said, he admitted he was “a little bit” anxious before the recount.

“I think I was nervous up until there was total closure on the election,” said Kreiss-Tomkins.

Kreiss-Tomkins, a Democrat from Sitka, said the next step for him is returning to his constituents before the legislative session begins next month.

“I think our campaign was about trying to offer full and equal access of government to every community, no matter how small, no matter how remote or isolated,” Kreiss-Tomkins said. “This is a rural Southeast Alaska district, and I’m going to try to get back to the communities before session, if I can. And that’s really important to me. And that’s what we were doing for the campaign, and now that the campaign’s done, continuing doing the same thing.”

In the Alaska House of Representatives, Kreiss-Tomkins added, he intends to bring the same “high-energy advocacy” from his campaign to representing the district’s interests.

Kreiss-Tomkins also offered some warm words for Thomas.

“I think it’s really important to acknowledge the legacy Bill has left our district,” said Kreiss-Tomkins. “He cares about Southeast. He worked hard for Southeast. And you know, I and many others are grateful for his eight years of service.”

House District 34 was the last unresolved race from the Nov. 6 general election. Another Democrat who had a close race, Anchorage Sen. Hollis French, survived a recount last Thursday.

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

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