The deadline for candidates to file for office isn’t until June 1, but here are some of the State House races that are already drawing our attention
This article covers select races in districts 1-20. A future article will address 21-40.
House District 5 – Southwest Fairbanks
All indications are that incumbent Democrat Adam Wool is running again. The district leans to the left (Begich beat Sullivan by 500 votes and Walker beat Parnell by 1200 votes), but Republicans feel it is moderate enough they can win it. R’s have had their chosen guy, Aaron Lojewski, campaigning for almost a year.
House District 9 — Greater Palmer-Valdez-Fort Greely
A large, unwieldy, uber conservative and unpredictable district that stretches from the outskirts of Palmer, over to Valdez, then all the way up to Fort Greely.
Incumbent Republican Jim Colver has gotten into hot water with party insiders and activists by working with Democrats in the Legislature. Colver is being challenged by his 2014 primary opponent George Rauscher, who appears to have the support of the Republican infrastructure, but in this ultra anti-establishment district is that a good or a bad thing?
House District 11 – Palmer
With Rep. Shelley Hughes seeking Sen. Bill Stolze’s senate seat, she has opened her
House seat up for a fight. The district is solidly Republican, so the fight will really only be in their primary.
Delana Johnson, Palmer’s mayor has jumped in, and she is looking for a win to get her to Juneau. Johnson is tight with Governor Walker and he may very well assist her efforts.
Johnson is joined in the primary by Palmer City Councilman Richard Best and Nancy Campbell, who hasn’t been elected to major political office before.
State House District 14 -Eagle River
This is an interesting one. The district is unquestioningly Republican, but there are many in the party who think incumbent Lora Reinbold is, how should we put it, too much.
She seems unwilling or unable to work and play well with her legislative colleagues. Her rigidness and propensity for demagoguing issues has gotten her kicked out of the House Majority Caucus. She is kind of the Ted Cruz of Alaska politics.
The question is, can challenger and former school board member Crystal Kennedy convince enough of Reinbold’s constituents that her banishment is a problem with Reinbold or will Reinbold be able to convince them that it’s more a function of our broken and corrupt political system.
Given the district and “outsider” friendly election cycle the smart money is on Reinbold right now.
State House District 16 – Boniface (Anchorage)
This is the late Rep. Max Gruenberg’s district. He passed away during the legislative session and was replaced (if anyone can) by Democrat Ivy Spohnholz, who has filed paperwork to run for seat in her own right.
Right now Republicans are only fielding many-time-candidate for the seat Don Hadley.
The district leans Democrat and Spohnholz has drawn praise from folks across the political spectrum during her short time in office for her smarts, energy, and professionalism. Before coming to the Legislature she spent many year as a professional fundraiser for various organizations. That is an invaluable skill rarely seen with a candidate entering their political career.
Until something changes, this race is hers to lose.
State House District 18 – Spenard/West Anchorage
The is a strong district for Democrats. Mark Begich and Bill Walker won the district almost 2-1 over Dan Sullivan and Sean Parnell in 2014. All indications are that incumbent Democrat Rep. Harriet Drummond is running.
In most districts the analysis and intrigue would really end there. Actually, it wouldn’t even merit the race a mention on this post.
However, former Chilkoot Charlie’s owner and long, long, really, really, longtime (not saying he’s old) district resident Mike Gordon has thrown his hat in the ring as a Republican. He is well know, well financed, and has been walking and working the district for months.
If any republican is going to have a real chance in this district they have to have everything Gordon brings to the table and do every Gordon is doing perfectly. But, sadly for this hard working candidate there is a but, the voting numbers in the district are what they are. This is still a very liberal distinct, so the favorite remains Drummond.