LeBon edges Dodge by 1 vote in Fairbanks House recount
In one of the most closely watched state election races this month – one with implications for control of the House – a Friday recount has named Republican Bart LeBon winner of the Fairbanks contest by one vote.
LeBon and Democratic challenger Kathryn Dodge each entered Friday’s recount tied with 2,661 votes each.
According to the state Division of Elections, LeBon picked up two votes; Dodge gained one. This gives LeBon a 2,663-2,662 victory.
Dodge has until Wednesday to appeal the results to the Alaska Supreme Court. She could not be reached early Friday evening for comment on her intentions.
Dodge can ask the court to review ballots for which her campaign challenged but did not prevail.
One ballot in dispute wasn’t counted because it has oval marks filled in for LeBon and Dodge, but an X marked over the LeBon oval. This was deemed an overvote, a vote for more than one candidate, which is thrown out under state law.
If the court awarded Dodge the vote, the race would be tied. The Division of Elections would then follow a state law that says a winner will be determined "by lot" — which could be a coin toss, in essence by chance.
In a 2007 primary race between Bryce Edgmon and incumbent Carl Moses, the two remained tied at 767 votes and a coin toss in Anchorage gave Edgmon the victory. He's been in office ever since.
The difference in the recount, according to the Division of Elections, was a vote cast for LeBon by a convicted felon. After an extensive review, elections officials deemed the felon eligible to vote because he has completed his sentence including probation.
What's at stake for each candidate is a possible seat with the House majority for the next two years. Less than 24 hours after polls closed on Nov. 6, LeBon joined Republicans for an announcement declaring a majority caucus that would feature new House Speaker Dave Talerico, R-Healy.
Even with LeBon winning, the Republican-led majority remains slim. Only 20 members appeared at a brief news conference announcing the majority.
Gabrielle LeDoux was not invited to the caucus; Louise Stutes was also absent, though Talerico said an invitation was extended. So far now, it would be a 21-19 majority, which is slimmer than the existing Democratic-led caucus.
Stutes and LeDoux are members of a Democratic-led majority, an alignment that got them crosswise with the Republican party. David Eastman did not appear at the Nov. 7 caucus announcement and later said he has not committed to certain conditions of the caucus.
A Dodge victory would have given the Democrats 17 members. Should independent Dan Ortiz of Ketchikan remain in the caucus along with LeDoux and Stutes, the two groups could be at loggerheads with 20 members each.
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