Interior Senate Democrats Fall in General Election
Two interior members of Alaska Bipartisan Senate Coalition fell to Republicans Tuesday. Incumbent Senators Joe Paskvan and Joe Thomas were defeated by Senator John Coghill and Former Legislator Pete Kelly.
It was nearly two hours after polls closed in Alaska before interior Senate candidates arrived at election headquarters. Republican Senator John Coghill, who campaigned as a family man, read his granddaughter a bed time story before heading down town.
“We have a series of stories called the Box Car Children and we’re on book four right now.”
The incumbent Coghill defeated incumbent democrat Joe Thomas in what he calls a difficult race. Tuesday night’s results mean big changes for Alaska’s Senate Bipartisan Coalition. Coghill says it’s no secret he didn’t support it.
“Now, I have worked in coalitions down through the years,” he says. “I just like ‘em to be as conservative as I can possibly get ‘em and at a place where I can play with some degree of authority.”
Interior candidates focused mainly on the cost of energy this year. The issue of oil tax reform also played a strong role in campaigns. Former legislator and republican Pete Kelly defeated incumbent democrat Joe Paskvan in a tight race. Kelly is reportedly completing a mission trip in Asia, so he was unavailable for comment. Senator Paskvan says energy and oil tax reform are two issues that can’t be separated.
“You can’t have a loss of billions of dollars a year in revenue and then think that you’re going to spend million to do these big projects,” says Paskvan. “If the oil tax bill were to pass, I think that Alaska loses its chance to dream big because there’s just too much revenue loss to the state.”
Republican Click Bishop will also join Senator Coghill and Pete Kelly in Juneau next year. He defeated democrat Anne Sudkamp by a wide margin. He says regardless of his political affiliation, he’ll make decisions for the good of the interior.
“If it meant joining a coalition that was good for Fairbanks and good for the district, I would do that,” says Bishop.
Newly elected Senators will head for Anchorage later this week to hammer out the details and to start planning for the next two years.