Updated 5:50 p.m.: All Alaska primary election results have been certified, and the Interior saw some surprises, some close races and some that were wrapped up as expected on election night.
North Pole Republican Sen. John Coghill has confirmed he has asked for a recount in the close primary race for Senate District B. Coghill trails conservative opponent Robert Myers by 14 votes, according to certified election results provided by the Alaska Division of Elections.
Coghill sent a letter to the division earlier Monday asking for a recount. The 22-year Alaska lawmaker told the Daily News-Miner his request is based on a number of concerns.
"The new machines they were using, they had to copy and fax a couple of those documents, and I wanted to make sure that didn't happen areawide and there weren't any mix-ups there," Coghill said. "I also wanted to make sure all the postmarks were double-checked [on mail-in ballots]. I hate to say the division failed anything, but this is just so close you've got to ask."
Coghill noted that Elections Division Director Gail Fenumiai told him Monday morning that she would try to have a recount by Wednesday. The division has not confirmed that.
The recount would happen at the state elections headquarters in Juneau.
Coghill won't travel to Juneau for the recount but says he has a number of friends in the capital city that he will ask to watch the process for him.
If the recount again certifies that Coghill lost his long-held Senate seat, he will become one of several Republican incumbents to lose to conservative newcomers, largely over the dispute over the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.
Coghill said he voted last session for a smaller dividend in hopes of maintaining the fund for the long term.
Other Republican incumbents considered more moderate by many have lost their seats to pro full-PFD candidates. Among those ousted are Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, who lost by 1,632 votes.
"They [the newcomers] were motivated and organized this election," Coghill said. "It's a shame that it comes down to the dividend that creates this divide. I would love to be there [in Juneau] to continue this conversation, but I guess we will see."
Coghill was first elected to the Alaska Legislature in 1998 in the House. He was sworn into office in 1999.
Myers said Monday he knew the recount request was coming after reaching out to Coghill's campaign Friday.
"I don't think it will change vote. I think it's a pretty good margin. Historically, recounts usually only swing three or four votes, so I think I'll be fine," Myers said.
Myers, like Coghill, may not be able to make it down to Juneau for the recount and said he is in the process of finding individuals to watch the process for him.
Moving forward, if he remains on top in the primary, Myers will face Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly member Marna Sanford and Fairbanks business owner Evan Eads in November. Both are running as unaffiliated candidates in the general election and as such were not involved in the primary election.
Myers said he has already reached out to the Alaska Republican Party to begin campaign work for the general election but did note that Sanford might be a stiff competitor.
"No question it's going to be tough. Marna has a little more name recognition than me. In some ways winning an assembly seat is harder than winning a Senate seat as far as the expanse of the election area. But this district does lean slightly Republican, so we will see," Myers said.
Other Interior races
Democratic candidate Bennie Colbert has conceded to Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly member Christopher Quist in the primary for House District 1.
Colbert announced his concession in a news release Monday.
“This campaign has meant a great deal to me. I am extremely humble for this experience and my life has changed forever,” Colbert said. “As a community leader, a real estate agent and president of the Fairbanks NAACP, I always endeavor to create change for the people, not only in House District 1 but for all of Alaska. I will always fight for funding in education, a robust economy and a state with reliable and renewable energy resources, and I look forward to working on these issues for this district."
Colbert urged his voters to support Quist in November.
Quist won the primary by eight votes and will face Republican Rep. Bart LeBon in November.
LeBon won his 2018 race for the seat against Fairbanks Democrat Kathryn Dodge by a single vote after months of litigation. The seat was previously held by now-Sen. Scott Kawasaki, a Democrat.
Quist acknowledged Colbert's concession in a statement issued Monday.
“Bennie is a great person and I thank him for running the campaign he did,” Quist said. “Thank you to House District 1 voters who had a difficult choice to make and turned out in record numbers to vote.”
In the Republican primary for House District 2, incumbent Rep. Steve Thompson maintained enough of a lead over conservative opponent Dave Selle to prevail. Thompson will face Democratic candidate Jeremiah Youmans in November.
For the House District 5 primary, Democratic Rep. Adam Wool has won his race and will face Republican candidate Kevin McKinley in November. Wool beat McKinley in the same race in 2018.
For House District 6, Mike Cronk has won his three-way Republican primary by more than 600 votes over each of his opponents. He will face unopposed Democratic candidate Julia Hnilicka and unaffiliated candidates Elijah Verhagen and Vernon Carlson in November.
There were no primaries for House Districts 3 and 4.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.