With election certified, a recount likely awaits

Fairbanks lawmaker Mike Kelly remains ahead by a single vote

Posted: Thursday, December 04, 2008

The state Elections Division on Wednesday certified the Nov. 4 general election results, showing Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Fairbanks, as victor in the House District 7 race.

Kelly remains ahead of Democratic challenger Karl Kassel by a single vote, with Kelly receiving 5,018 votes to Kassel's 5,017. A recount is expected next week.

There were no significant changes from results announced last week after absentee and other late ballots were counted.

The certification triggers a five-day period in which a recount can be sought, either by the defeated candidate or five other qualified voters, said Gail Fenumiai, state elections director.

Kassel said Wednesday that he planned to file his recount request this morning.

The recount is expected to happen on Tuesday, and Kassel said his campaign manager will travel to Juneau to observe the recount.

Kassel said he has a good chance to win the recount.

"My research indicates they always change, but generally the trends don't change very much," he said.

The Fairbanks race is being watched closely around the state because if Kelly's victory is overturned it could narrow an already slim Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

Republicans there have organized with Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, as speaker, though appointments to some other positions may hinge on the outcome of the Fairbanks race. That may include Kelly's seat on the powerful House Finance Committee.

House Democrats, currently led by Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, have yet to announce an organization.

Kerttula declined comment on reports she may be trying to organize a coalition with some Republican members who are unhappy with the leadership.

Republicans currently have a 22-18 majority, though one Democrat, Rep. Richard Foster, traditionally aligns with the Republicans.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or e-mail patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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