JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska state Sen. John Coghill said Monday that he will seek a recount in his Republican primary race, which he lost by 14 votes.
A state review board certified Robert Myers Jr. as the winner of the Senate District B primary, with 1,739 votes, compared with 1,725 for Coghill, according to results released by the state Division of Elections.
Coghill, a longtime lawmaker from North Pole who has served in both the House and Senate, told The Associated Press that his expectation of changing the result is “really low at this point, but I still think you need to look at it. When it's this close, there could have been a mishandling or something didn't get counted properly."
Coghill is chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and part of the Republican-led Senate majority leadership team. Senate President Cathy Giessel, an Anchorage Republican, also lost her primary.
State law permits a defeated candidate or 10 qualified voters who believe a mistake has been made by an election official or by the counting board in tallying the votes to seek a recount.
Myers, a truck driver, said he had expected Coghill's decision to seek a recount but said he doesn't think it will change the outcome of the race.
“I understand why they're doing it. It's part of the process, and they don't really have a whole lot to lose,” he said.
Myers said he saw the race as being less about him and “more of a referendum” on Coghill. Myers said one of the big issues was the size of the check distributed to residents each year from the state's oil wealth fund.
Myers said he favoured adding to the state Constitution a dividend formula that has not been followed in recent years amid a budget deficit. Coghill has supported a smaller payout, including this year's $992 check because of budget and revenue concerns.
Coghill said he was criticized as “not conservative because of the dividend, and I just don't know how they come to that conclusion.”
Other incumbents who lost their races were Reps. Jennifer Johnston and Chuck Kopp, Anchorage Republicans who hold leadership posts within a bipartisan House majority caucus composed largely of Democrats but that also includes independents and some Republicans. Republican Reps. Mark Neuman of Big Lake and Sharon Jackson of Eagle River, who are in the House minority, and Republican Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, who did not caucus with either group, also lost.
The state earlier this year filed charges accusing LeDoux of voter misconduct and interference with voting related to past elections. She has said she is innocent.
Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press