The first time Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins ran for State House, in 2012 at the tender age of 23, he squeaked through, beating Haines Republican Bill Thomas by just 32 votes. The candidates had to wait weeks for the final results.
Not this time. On Tuesday night (11-4-14), Kreiss-Tomkins, now 25, won convincingly.
In the race for State House District 35, Kreiss-Tomkins beat 37-year-old Republican Steven Samuelson, of Petersburg, 60-percent to 40-percent (3393 votes to 2288) according to unofficial results from the state Division of Elections.
And that means Alaska’s youngest lawmaker will be returning to Juneau.
“These margins are a lot bigger than we were anticipating,” Kreiss-Tomkins told supporters on Tuesday night. “We were hoping to win. We were aspiring to win. But this is a, a pretty fat margin…”
“A mandate,” someone said. And Kreiss-Tomkins will be taking that mandate with him, as he enters into negotiations over what position he’ll hold in the legislature during his second term.
“You know, here we are celebrating a really exciting and rewarding outcome,” he said, speaking to KCAW on Tuesday night. “And I get on the 6 a.m. flight to Anchorage tomorrow, and that begins two or three days of power jockeying to see who’s going to be on what committee, what the caucuses are going to look like, if there’s going to be a coalition. And, it’s going to be very, very intense the next few days, trying to figure out what the legislative landscape is going to look like.”
That landscape is complicated by what might be a new governor, if Independent Bill Walker holds onto his lead over incumbent Governor Sean Parnell.
Kreiss-Tomkins said he thinks it will be a more moderate legislature than the last one — and, for him, as a member of the Democratic minority, “a more hospitable climate.”
“My inner dork, my inner nerd, is really excited about the possibility of being able to try to make some of these ideas that we’re excited about reality in Alaska,” he said. “Make them law.”
Steven Samuelson couldn’t be reached on Tuesday night. This was Samuelson’s third run for state House. He lost twice before to Peggy Wilson of Wrangell, in primaries.
The Division of Elections had not yet released official turnout numbers on Tuesday night, but about ten minutes before polls closed, Sitka’s two precincts reported that nearly 2,900 votes had been cast.
That’s a much higher turnout than in the last midterm election, in 2010, when about 1800 voters turned out. The turnout rivaled the 2012 presidential election, when about 3200 Sitka voters cast ballots. Midterm elections usually see significantly lower turnout than when the president is on the ballot.