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Bishop wins GOP primary race for Senate Seat C

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Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 9:00 pm | Updated: 10:34 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — Click Bishop sailed to a wide margin of victory over Ralph Seekins and David Eastman in the hotly contested race for the Republican nomination for

Senate District C.

As of 10:45 p.m. and with 84 percent of precincts reporting, the former state labor commissioner had 49 percent of the vote, followed by former state senator and car dealership owner Seekins with 31 percent and Palmer resident and former military police officer Eastman with 20 percent.

Bishop, who retired from the state position earlier this year, said he was thankful of the turnout of voters in the contentious race and is looking forward to the general election.

“It’s very humbling. I’m just so stoked on the support that has been bestowed upon me by the voters. We worked really hard, really hard, all summer and I had so many supporters behind me and I just didn’t want to let them down,” he said.

The race was the most expensive primary in the state, with Bishop, Seekins and Eastman raking in more than $220,000, mostly between Bishop and Seekins.

Bishop raised about $91,000, about $20,000 of which came from union-backed groups, with a $5,000 personal contribution. Seekins has raised about $50,000 and contributed $60,000 of his own money.

Seekins was good-natured about the loss, which came close to the same wide margin by which he was defeated by Joe Thomas in 2006.

“Well what can you say, you win some and you lose some,” he said. “When you lose you don’t make excuses, you move on and look at tomorrow.”

Seekins was scheduled to get on a 1:30 a.m. flight to Tampa, Fla., to attend the Republican National Convention as Alaska’s national committeeman.

“I want to say thank you to the people who supported, stood by me and voted for me,” he said.

Bishop’s win will likely play a role in deciding the fate of the Senate Bipartisan Working Group in the upcoming session. Republican leadership wants to dismantle the coalition of Democrats and Republicans and return to a Republican majority.

Bishop, unlike his competition, didn’t make any promises to not join the coalition. He had said he’d join whatever group would give him the best opportunity to bring affordable energy to the Interior.

His opponents were stoutly against joining the working group in its current form and had made it a point of attack in ads leading up to the election.

Seekins had often questioned whether or not Bishop was a “real” Republican. He pointed toward Bishop’s contributions from unions, as well as a lack of involvement in the Republican Party.

Eastman, who raised about $12,000, largely had his sights set on Seekins after a contentions Republican State Convention, at which Eastman and Tea Party supporters challenged “traditional” Republicans for control of the party. Eastman had come close to upsetting Seekins for the seat of national committeeman.

Bishop largely kept his own hands clean, but his supporters fired off attack ads dredging up Seekins’ voting record from his four-year term in the Senate.

Bishop, who expressed concern about the tone of the ads, including the ones in his support, said he was relieved to see the race end.

“I’m feeling a lot better than the last 60 days,” he said. “After I was done waiving signs, I saw a woman was walking down the sidewalk and she said ‘My car broke down and I’m walking to the voting precinct to vote for you.’ I said man, that’s a sign.”

Bishop will face Democratic opponent Anne Sudkamp, who has yet to break the $1,000 mark in fundraising.

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 or follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.

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