Alaska News Nightly: November 7, 2012

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State Senate Announces New Organization

Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB – Unalaska

Last night’s election has shifted the balance of power in the State Senate toward the Republican Party.

At least six members of the bipartisan working group will not be returning to the legislature in January. Members of the Senate have been meeting today to discuss its leadership and have just announced the plan for reorganization at a news conference on the west side of Anchorage.

Bell, French Race Remains Close, Awaits Absentee Ballots

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The most expensive Alaska Senate race was also the closest last night.

Incumbent Democratic Senator Hollis French eked out a win for a newly drawn district that includes Sand Lake and West Anchorage. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, French has about 51 percent of the vote compared with 49 percent for his challenger, Anchorage businessman Bob Bell. They are separated by 247 votes and there are still more than 1,500 absentee ballots to count.

Bell says it was a wild ride last night. And he isn’t optimistic about his chances to win the race, but he isn’t conceding yet.

French is optimistic his win will hold. The Division of Elections will begin counting absentee ballots in the race on Nov. 13.

House District 34 Race Too Close To Call

Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka

House District 34, in Southeast Alaska, is also still too close to call. Only 44 votes separate Republican state Representative Bill Thomas from Democratic challenger Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, who is 23 years old.

Bond Proposition Passes, Constitutional Convention Fails

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

In other election results, voters are sending Republican Congressman Don Young back to Washington.

The $453 million bond proposition passed by a wide margin last night. But voters did not approve a measure that would have required a new constitutional convention. That question is put in front of voters every ten years.

And voters retained all 26 judges on the ballot, including Sen Tan. He was the target of a campaign by Alaska Family Action, who wanted to oust him for two abortion related decisions in the late 1990’s.

Interior Senate Democrats Fall In General Election

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

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.

Republicans Win Four Interior House Races

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

Republicans also won four of six races for House Districts lying within the Interior, with North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson presiding over the most lopsided win. Incumbent Republican Eric Feige also cruised to victory in District 6 with just over 72 percent of the vote over Jamie Duhamel. Republicans Tammie Wilson and Pete Higgins also won elections in District 2 and 7.

Many interior candidates downplayed partisanship and preached the gospel of cooperation. One exception was District 4 winner Democrat Scott Kawasaki’s recounting of the bitter, and expensive, political battle between him and challenger David Pruhs.

In District 38 race, Democrat David Guttenberg handily beat Republican Alan Dick by about 16 percentage points.

State Announces Winners In Oil, Gas Rights Lease Sales

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

The State of Alaska announced winners of oil and gas rights in a lease sale held in Anchorage today. The state took in more than $14 million.

14 Bids Accepted In NPR-A Lease Sale

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

The Department of Interior conducted its own lease sale today, as well. The Bureau of Land Management accepted fourteen bids in the NPR-A. The 160,000 acres bid on today is just a fraction of the 4.5 million that were available.

New Player May Enter Field For North Slope LNG

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

There’s another company looking at producing liquefied natural gas on the North Slope. The move could broaden Fairbanks access to the cheaper, cleaner burning fuel.

The Scam ‘Toner Phoners’ Reach The Y-K Delta

Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel

Bethel may be 400 miles off the road system, but it’s no stranger to fraud.

Most recently: office supply scams.

Moose Researcher Studying Calf Mortality

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Moose calf mortality is a big concern among state wildlife managers. Alaska Fish and Game has data indicating that 83 percent of collared moose calves died in one Kenai game unit alone. But moose researcher Vic Van Ballenberghe, who has spent more than three decades studying moose in the Denali Park area, has his theory of how a strong calf can be the result of choices a cow moose makes long before that calf is conceived.