It’s still too close to call for Republican state Representative Bill Thomas and Democratic challenger Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins in Southeast’s House District 34.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Thomas trails Kreiss-Tomkins by 44 votes. That’s less than a full school bus of voters. Absentee, early and questioned ballots will have an impact in this race.
“We’ve been looking at the data and probably 800 absentee ballots are yet to be counted, although I’ve heard all sorts of different numbers,” Kreiss-Tomkins said on election night.
This is the 24-year-old’s first run for political office. He said his campaign focused on turning out early voters.
“It’s going to make a big impact. We put a real concerted effort into banking ballots early. My vote has not yet been counted – it’s an early vote,” Kreiss-Tomkins said. “And ditto for probably the majority of the people that are at our election night party at Worldwide Headquarters.”
That would be Kreiss-Tomkins’ home in Sitka.
Thomas could not be reached on election night.
Both ran intense campaigns, especially in the last couple weeks. Local newspapers were saturated with advertising, and mailers were sent to local homes, some from the campaigns themselves and others from supporters. Scores of letters to the editor ran in support of both men. And they appeared together at public events in Sitka and Haines.
Thomas leaned on his relationship with state Sen. Bert Stedman, a Sitka Republican who co-chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Stedman plugged Thomas’s candidacy and lent his image to ads for Thomas.
Kreiss-Tomkins also worked the advertising angle, and made his presence known in Sitka and surrounding communities. He showed up in person on front porches to talk to voters about the election.
“It was neighbors talking with neighbors, friends talking with friends,” he said. “I knocked on multi-thousands of doors and we ran a real hard, hard campaign. It feels great.”
Kreiss-Tomkins says he’s happy with his campaign regardless of what the final results show. That won’t be known until the absentee, early and question ballots are counted. That has to happen no later than 15 days after the election.
House District 34 includes Sitka, Haines, Klukwan, Hoonah, Kake, Angoon, Port Alexander, Pelican and Elfin Cove.