Challenger ousts Sanders in House race

Oil executive beats Republican incumbent for Anchorage seat

Posted: Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Anchorage Rep. Jerry Sanders won't be headed back to the Capitol in January after a well-financed challenger ousted him in the Republican primary.

With all precincts reporting in unofficial results, Anchorage Assembly member Kevin Meyer won 55 percent of the vote Tuesday in the GOP primary for District 19. Meyer, an executive at Phillips Alaska Petroleum, raised substantially more money than Sanders, a four-term incumbent who got most of his support from labor groups.

"The finances made a lot of difference," Sanders said.

Meyer also had support from many Republican leaders after Sanders quit the GOP House majority last year to protest the plan to balance the budget with earnings from the Alaska Permanent Fund and attempts to pass a constitutional amendment allowing a subsistence priority for rural residents.

"A lot of people told us We want an alternative to Jerry,' " Meyer said.

Meyer faces Patti Higgins, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Most of the action elsewhere was in races for open seats in the 40-member House. Seven seats had no incumbent. The primary's results will set the stage for November, when Democrats will try to cut into Republican control of the House.

In the Homer district vacated by retiring Republican Rep. Gail Phillips, fisherman Drew Scalzi defeated two other GOP hopefuls with 60 percent of the vote. Scalzi faces Democrat Amy Bollenbach, who was unopposed in the primary.

In the crowded race to replace Rep. Gary Davis, a Soldotna Republican, Soldotna Mayor Ken Lancaster got 44 percent of the vote, compared to less than 25 percent for three other Republican candidates. He faces Kenai Borough Assembly member Pete Sprague in November.

In Anchorage's District 17, Lesil McGuire, an aide to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Pete Kott, won a four-way Republican primary with 53 percent of the vote. McGuire, the daughter of David McGuire, a prominent and politically active surgeon, had a wide advantage in campaign money as she sought to replace GOP Rep. John Cowdery, who is seeking a Senate seat. McGuire has no Democrat to worry about in November, but must face Ray Metcalfe, the head of the fledgling Republican Moderate Party.

In District 16 in Anchorage, Gretchen Guess, the daughter of the late House Speaker Gene Guess, easily defeated Regina Manteufel in the Democratic primary with 76 percent of the vote. Democratic incumbent Allen Kemplen is retiring. Guess, a business analyst for Alaska Communications Systems, faces Randy Smith, who was unopposed in the GOP primary.

In Southeast Alaska, Peggy Wilson of Wrangell won a spot in the November contest to replace veteran Democrat Ben Grussendorf of Sitka, who retired. Wilson defeated Frank Richards of Sitka with 64 percent of the vote in the GOP primary. The winner will take on Sitka Mayor Stan Filler, who's running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

In North Pole, Hugh "Bud" Fate won the primary in the race to replace Republican Gene Therriault, who is running for the Senate. Fate had 53 percent of the vote, easily defeating Tony Martin and Doug Welton. He faces Democrat Carl Benson.

Palmer Rep. Scott Ogan, who also quit the majority last year, easily fended off three challengers in the Republican primary: Sheila Fritz, Mike Pearson and Janet Kincaid, who lost to Ogan in the primary two years ago.

On Kodiak Island, Gary Stevens defeated Dan Ogg in the Republican race for the seat vacated by GOP Rep. Alan Austerman, who is running for the Senate. Stevens faces Democrat Gabrielle LeDoux in November.

Three House races were settled in the primary. Anchorage Republican Rep. Andrew Halcro, Unalaska Democrat Carl Moses of Unalaska and Nome Democrat Richard Foster beat primary challengers and face no general election opponents.

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