Assemblywoman LaFrance headlines last-minute shakeups of legislative races

Following the loss of several moderate incumbent Republicans to far-right party loyalists in this year’s primary, progressives are hoping that several last-minute changes will turn into competitive general election bouts.

The deadline for candidates to withdraw—clearing the way either for another candidate to make a head-on challenge or for the party to replace them with a heavy-hitting challenger—was 5 p.m. on Monday.

Headlining the changes is Assemblywoman Suzanne LaFrance, who enters the race for House District 28 as a Democrat-backed non-partisan candidate and replaces Democrat Adam Lees. LaFrance, who won a hotly contested assembly race earlier this year in the traditionally conservative South Anchorage, will go up against James Kaufman who handily beat incumbent Rep. Jennifer Johnston in the primary.

“Alaska is now at the edge of the fiscal cliff,” said LaFrance. “I decided to run because I love our state and our district. I’m a lifelong Alaskan who’s lived in the district for 22 years. I’ve raised my kids here. We can’t allow bad policies to bankrupt our state. I’m the only fiscally responsible candidate who supports a balanced budget. I have to fight for our future.”

The race will be a three-way race between Kaufman, LaFrance and non-affiliated candidate Benjamin Fletcher of Girdwood. Non-affiliated candidate Adolph Garcia has filed to run as a write-in for the seat.

According to everyone’s favorite benchmark of district competitiveness—the 2018 U.S. House race between Rep. Don Young and Democrat-backed challenger Alyse Galvin—House District 28 leans conservative but could be within striking distance. Young won the district by 2 points.

The general election is on Nov. 3. You can apply for an absentee ballot now and for any reason. 

Other changes

  • Anchorage Democrat Anita Thorne withdrew from the race for Senate District M, which Young won by 4 points in 2018, clearing the way for Anchorage School Board member Andy Holleman to have a two-way race against Sen. Josh Revak, who was appointed to the position late last year.
  • Democrat Stephany Jeffers withdrew after winning the Democratic primary for Senate District L in Palmer. This allowed the party to substitute in undeclared candidate Jim Cooper, former mayor of Palmer, for a head-to-head race against Republican Sen. Shelley Hughes.
  • Independent candidate Jeff Landfield withdrew from the race for Senate District L after Democratic candidate Roselynn Cacy refused to drop out. Instead of pushing for a hard-to-win three-way race against incumbent Republican Sen. Natasha von Imhof, Landfield opted to drop out. “It would have been an epic campaign,” Landfield said.
  • Democratic candidate Bruce Batten and undeclared candidate Roger Branson both withdrew from the race for Eagle River’s House District 14, clearing the way for nonaffiliated candidate Mike Risinger to challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Kelly Merrick.

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