FAIRBANKS – A close race in a Southeast state House district has put a Fairbanks legislator’s seat on the House Finance Committee at risk.
Just two votes separate the contenders for House District 34, a district that includes Haines and Sitka.
If Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, who was ahead on election night but has fallen behind in absentee counting, loses to incumbent Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, the House Democrats would be guaranteed one less seat on the powerful committee.
That could be bad for Fairbanks Democratic Rep. Scott Kawasaki, who was appointed to the committee this year and is the most junior member.
House Democratic Caucus Press Secretary Mark Gnadt said the race is being watched closely and that it has caused the minority to put other committee assignments on hold.
“Depending on who wins it (the races) would change (the House) quite a bit in organization,” he said. “That’s the reason we only put out top leadership. If we go to 10 members, we would lose that third finance seat.”
Kawasaki is slated to be the second Fairbanks-area Democrat on the important budget-setting committee. Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks, is the other.
Fairbanks also has two Republicans on the committee, Reps. Tammie Wilson and Steve Thompson, for a total of four Fairbanksans on the committee.
Thomas was formerly the co-chairman of the Finance Committee, but Rep. Alan Austerman, R-Kodiak, took his position. Thomas told KCAW radio he expects to return to the Finance Committee if he prevails in the vote tally.
A few hundred more absentee ballots have yet to be counted. The count is planned for Nov. 19 and 21.
Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 or follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.