LeDoux jumps ahead of primary opponent after initial absentee count

Anchorage Republican Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux sits at Election Central at the Dena’ina Center downtown on Tuesday, August 21, 2018, while she waits for results in her closely-fought GOP primary with Aaron Weaver, a former cameraman at KTUU. (Nathaniel Herz / Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Anchorage Republican Representative Gabrielle LeDoux jumped to a big lead over her primary challenger after an initial count of absentee ballots this morning. LeDoux got 142 absentee votes, compared to 33 for her opponent, Aaron Weaver.

The two candidates were separated by just three votes heading into today’s count. The absentee results put LeDoux ahead by roughly 100.The race for the East Anchorage state House seat has been closely watched. That’s partly because LeDoux decided to take a leadership position two years ago in the House’s mostly-Democratic majority coalition. Alaska Republican Party leaders were furious with LeDoux and campaigned for her defeat in last week’s primary.

The race took a surprising twist yesterday when state elections officials announced they’d found “irregularities” with a small portion of the district’s absentee ballots. Seven had been requested in the names of dead people and two more were returned in the names of people who later said they did not vote.

In today’s count, elections officials separated out 26 absentee ballots for which there were concerns about their authenticity. All 26 of those votes went for LeDoux. Those votes will be included in a provisional count, but they could ultimately be challenged. Today’s count isn’t the last one — absentee ballots can continue to come in until the tenth day after the election, which is later this week. Also today, state elections officials were set to count absentee ballots in two other closely contested legislative races on the Kenai Peninsula.