Incumbent Rep. Johansen Talks About His Candidacy

Ketchikan Republican Rep. Kyle Johansen will be on the House District 33 ballot as an independent in the Nov. 6 general election.

Ketchikan’s Kyle Johansen is officially running for the District 33 House seat as an independent.

The incumbent Republican representative dropped out of the party primary race earlier this year. State elections officials certified his general-election petition Monday.

Incumbent Peggy Wilson of Wrangell won Tuesday’s GOP primary by beating two Ketchikan candidates, Agnes Moran and Patti Mackey.

Election boundary-line changes put Johansen and Wilson in the new District 33.

Johansen says the three-candidate primary was too crowded for him.

“We had two people from Ketchikan on the ballot and that effectively split the Ketchikan vote almost in half. And the total number of votes for Ketchikan candidates was higher than Peggy’s total. But when you split the vote like that, things like that happen,” he says.

A third GOP candidate could have splintered the vote even more.

Johansen also says he skipped the primary because he wanted more voters to consider his candidacy.

“We came in about the statewide average, 22 percent. But still that’s low in the overall scheme of things. And for a presidential election year, we should be much higher than that,” he says.

Johansen and Wilson face off against Democrat Matt Olsen in the November 6th primary.

Wilson won Tuesday’s Republican primary with 46 percent of the ballots cast. Assembly member Moran took 32 percent and convention and visitors’ bureau official Mackey got 22 percent.

Some Ketchikan Republicans tried to recall Johansen last session after he gave up a leadership position and left the GOP-led House Majority caucus.

The candidate says he expects that to come up, but not dominate the campaign.

“Based on what I experienced gathering signatures, nobody brought it up. It was not an issue. We talked about issues and things that affected people’s day-to-day lives,” he says.

Johansen and Wilson are longtime colleagues. Wilson has said she plans to run a congenial campaign, and Johansen says he’ll do the same.

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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.