A call from Assembly member and House candidate Suzanne LaFrance to winner-apparent James Kaufman put an end to the suspense for District 28 today. LaFrance left a message on Kaufman’s answering machine conceding the race.
LaFrance was the plug-and-play candidate for the Democrats, skipping the primary, but being inserted in the General Election to take on the winner of the Republican Primary, Kaufman. Adam Lees had won the primary for the Democrats but ceded the position to LaFrance, who was thought to have a better chance of beating Kaufman.
Kaufman said he was out and about in the South Anchorage hillside neighborhood taking down campaign signs and missed the call.
342,624 votes have been counted in the state so far, with more to be counted on Sunday.
LaFrance tightened up the race with 5,416 votes to Kaufman’s 5,851, and in her message she admonished him that he needs to listen to the people she represents.
LaFrance had postured as a conservative to voters but, in fact, is part of the Anchorage Assembly’s progressive leadership group. Kaufman is a conservative.
District 28 is a high-engagement area of the state, encompassing Girdwood, Indian, Bear Valley, O’Malley, and Huffman neighborhoods. Many voters cast absentee ballots in the district, which is one of the last to have those absentees counted.
11,744 votes were cast in the race, including 463 that peeled off for a third candidate, Benjamin Fletcher. But Kaufman won nearly 50 percent of the vote.
If ranked-choice voting was being used in this race, it’s likely that LaFrance would have won, as both she and Fletcher were liberal candidates, while Kaufman is conservative. The most likely scenario would be that Fletcher’s votes would have been assigned to LaFrance. Ranked-choice voting passed with Ballot Measure 2 and will be used in the next election in 2022.
In the district, Joe Biden edged out Donald Trump 5,906 to 5,823, reflecting the overall “bluing” of Anchorage as resource and private-sector jobs have been driven out of the state, and government jobs become a greater share of the job market.
With this race completed, a couple of others are still waiting for a batch of votes to be counted on Sunday: David Nelson in District 15 leads Lyn Franks, and Rep. Lance Pruitt leads Liz Snyder in District 27.
Both Franks and Snyder are Democrats, Nelson and Pruitt are Republicans.
Nelson leads in District 15 by 116 votes, while Pruitt leads in District 27 by just 58 votes.