Ron Gillham grew tired of hearing complaints – including his own – about the statewide crime wave and a reduced Permanent Fund Dividend.

So he chose to challenge a high placed Republican Sen. Peter Micciche, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee and serves as the Majority Leader.

On Wednesday morning, Gillham found himself nine votes ahead of Micciche. If the lead holds and survives a prospective recount, Gillham’s victory could go down as the among the biggest upsets this election season.

“To be somebody who is basically a nobody [...] well, I’ve been around Soldotna for 35 years, so it’s not like I’m not known,” Gillham said. “But in a political arena, I’m not a politician. It’s not just me who made this happen, it’s the people around me.”

The state can conduct a recount at no charge to candidates if fewer than 20 votes separate the candidate or the difference is less than .5 percent of the total cast for both candidates. Candidates would have to apply for the recount.

Micciche has not said whether he would seek the recount.

A third Kenai area race could also be subject to recount: that between newcomers Wayne Ogle and Benjamin Carpenter for a seat vacated by Mike Chenault, who held the position of House Speaker for eight years.

Gillham said during the Republican party’s March convention in Anchorage he had been encouraged to switch races and instead challenge House Rep. Gary Knopp, who is completing his first term.

“I had been doing this since October, so I couldn’t say OK, I’m not going to run against this guy, I’m going to run against that guy because he’s easier to beat,” Gillham said. “To me, that’s the wrong thing to do.

You’re selling your principles. By then I had a lot of people following me on Facebook, so I couldn’t sell my principles to them because there might be somebody else to beat.

Knopp had no primary opponent, nor does he have a general election opponent, so he is among six candidates with a clear path to another term.

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