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Vance wins Republican primary, heads to general election

Courtesy of the City of Homer

The stage is set for Alaska’s general election, and Republican candidate Sarah Vance will face incumbent and former Republican Paul Seaton in House District 31.

Vance eked out a narrow win against her main opponent John Cox in the Republican primary on Aug. 21. She led by just 30 votes on election night, but her lead grew to 100 votes by the time results were certified Tuesday, solidifying her as the party’s nominee. Cox could not be reached in time for this story.

Vance ran a grass-roots style campaign during the primary, appearing at a variety of community meetings on everything from crime to fishing regulations. She seemed less focused on hosting her own campaign events, and she said that’s unlikely to change going into the general election.

“So it’s not that I’m targeting any specific industry or venue. I’m just going with what’s available, where I think people have voiced a concern and want me to give them representation,” Vance said over the phone Tuesday.

Vance said she has come across several voters upset with the status quo in Juneau, but she said it’s difficult to say how large that voter block may be and if it’s enough to push her to victory in November.

She’s ran heavily on returning to the previous formula for calculating Permanent Fund dividends, which she views as non-partisan issue.

“The crime issue is also a non-partisan issue that’s important to every voter,” Vance added.

Vance wants to repeal SB91, a controversial criminal justice reform bill.

Nona Safra, who chairs the local Republican Party, hopes Republican voters in the district will rally behind Vance’s platform, but she also expects voters and political groups across the state to watch the race closely.  

“And there is a lot of support from outside of this area for Republicans in this district to defeat Paul Seaton,” Safra said, “because the issues that he voted on that they’re unhappy with are things like the PFD, SB91, the senior exemption, and they feel this impacts all of the state of Alaska, not just District 31.”

Seaton, who left the Republican Party this spring, has been at odds with party leaders since 2016, when he joined a bipartisan coalition along with Republicans Gabrielle LeDoux of Anchorage and Louise Stutes of Kodiak. The move took control of the House away from Republicans.

Both LeDoux and Stutes remained in the party and both won their primaries.

Aaron Bolton has moved on to a new position in Montana; he is no longer KBBI News Director. KBBI is currently seeking a News Director, and Kathleen Gustafson is filling in for the time being.
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