Alaska Supreme Court upholds Bart LeBon's 1-vote victory
One of the most closely watched state races from November's general election has come to an end.
The Alaska Supreme Court on Friday upheld GOP candidate Bart LeBon's one-vote victory over his opponent, Democrat Kathryn Dodge.
A few hours after hearing oral arguments in the morning, the justices issued a brief order affirming the state Division of Elections' naming of LeBon as the victor.
The hearing featured attorneys for LeBon and Dodge, plus the state attorney general's office representing the division.
“This brings finality to the elections process and affirms that the Division of Elections acted properly in the recount,” said Chief Assistant Attorney General Margaret Paton-Walsh. “The division is committed to implementing the state’s elections statutes consistent with the intent of the legislature and to best effectuate the will of the voters.”
The close race began as a tie on election night, then it briefly appeared that Dodge would win during a hand audit, but when official recount number came in LeBon pulled ahead by a single vote.
Dodge filed an appeal disputing the Division of Elections certification. Both Dodge and LeBon challenged several ballots in court but the Division of Elections stood by the decision.
"Of course you think back to your campaign, what could I have done differently to maybe not have this be a one vote victory but have it be a hundred vote victory?," LeBon said outside the courtroom before the ruling. "There are so many variables to consider in something like that. Should I have knocked on more doors, should I have ran more TV or radio. There is no way to answer that."
Dodge issued a statement after the decision:
“While I am disappointed in the ruling from the Supreme Court today, and wish the outcome had been different, I respect the court’s decision, and I have no regrets about pursuing this appeal process through to completion. ... I urge every Alaskan to remember the significance of each and every vote, and how important it is to exercise our right to vote in every election."
LeBon will represent House District 1, which covers the downtown Fairbanks area.
House Rep. Dave Talerico, R-Healy, in a prepared statement, "the first step in repairing Alaskans' trust in their government is to ensure that our elections carry the highest level of integrity — down to the very last vote."
LeBon calls himself a loyal Republican and says he won't likely abandon his party when the legislature convenes Jan. 15.
He says his first priority is to get Alaska's financial house in order.
Whichever party holds the majority position in the House has the ability to elect the Speaker of the House, choose committee leadership, and control the legislative agenda.
LeBon's win gives the Republicans 23 members but still no majority.
That's because two Republicans remain aligned with Democrats and a third member, Gary Knopp, withdrew from the Republican majority without committing to any caucus.
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