French Keeps Senate Seat in Close Race

Democrat Hollis French has retained his state senate seat by just 54 votes. The Division of Elections released the final vote tally Wednesday. French’s race against Republican businessmen Bob Bell for a seat that represents southwest Anchorage attracted the most campaign spending for state races this election. French says he always knew the race would be close, but he didn’t know just how close.

“When you win by 54 votes out of 15,000 you feel proud and humble at the same time. Proud of all the work you did. Humble that my opponent got a lot of votes and there’s a lot of people in the district who did not support me. You want to honor their thinking just like you honor the thinking of the people who supported you,” French said.

Bell was down by about 250 votes on election night, but gained considerable ground on French as the absentee ballots were counted. He says it is frustrating to come so close to winning. He plans to request a recount.

“You never know. What are we talking about? .3 percent? That’s like three votes per precinct so it wouldn’t take much of a mistake to make a difference,” Bell said.

Bell says he’s proud of the campaign he ran, regardless of how the recount turns out.

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Annie Feidt is the Managing Editor for Alaska's Energy Desk, a collaboration between Alaska Public Media in Anchorage, KTOO Public Media in Juneau and KUCB in Unalaska. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace. Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49th state just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon. afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie