Primary hot seat: Oldest legislator, longtime Assembly member face off in South Anchorage
With just one week to go until the state primary election, two South Anchorage Republicans face off in KTVA’s first installment of a weeklong hot seat series.
The state’s oldest serving legislator, Rep. Bob Lynn, is up against a longtime Anchorage Assembly member, Chris Birch, who’s mounting an aggressive campaign. Their Hillside district stretches from south of Abbott Road to Huffman Road, and includes an area between the New Seward Highway and Hillside Drive.
Fourteen-year incumbent Lynn is gearing up for the new round of elections.
“I get out here on Christmas Eve and put on my Santa Claus hat, I’ve already got the beard,” Lynn said, dragging a sign to the corner of O’Malley Road and Lake Otis Parkway. It asks constituents for their comments and concerns.
Lynn’s critics are taking aim at the 83-year-old legislator — they say he falls asleep on the job, and point to footage that proves it. Lynn doesn’t deny the claim.
“I might close my eyes a couple of times, but he’s got some stuff of his own,” Lynn said of his opponent.
A senior himself, 65-year-old Birch is reaching for the seat by promising new energy.
“I just don’t think he’s been actively engaged,” Birch said of Lynn. “For a number of years, for whatever reason.”
Birch said he wants to reopen labor contracts and vowed to work with the governor to reduce the budget.
“Any issues or concerns?” Birch asked as he headed door-to-door to ask for his neighbors’ votes.
In tackling the state’s unprecedented budget problem, both men agree to cut state spending first. It’s on what to do after that that the candidates differ in opinion.
“I think, clearly, the only other resource that’s really available is the earnings, the share of the earnings off the permanent fund,” Birch said.
Lynn said he promises not to touch the Permanent Fund Dividend, and would rather levy a statewide sales tax.
“Rich folks buy more things, expensive things more often,” Lynn said. “Poor folks buy less expensive things, so it’s progressive in a sense.”
Lynn and Birch are the only candidates competing in the primary election. Bill Goodell, a Democrat, will be on the ballot in November.
Primary election day is Aug. 16, but early voting has already started. For a complete list of hours and locations, click here.
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