Recount results in the House District 34 election solidified Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins’ victory over state Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines.
A recount performed by Alaska Division of Elections officials Monday put the final totals at 4,130 votes for Kreiss-Tomkins and 4,098 for Thomas. Though both candidates gained a handful of votes in the recount, Thomas’ seven-vote gain was not enough to overcome the 34-vote lead Kreiss-Tomkins had going into the recount.
Kreiss-Tomkins said the drawn-out nature of the race has been strange, as he has received three waves of congratulations from supporters since early November: one on election night, one when the Division of Elections certified the results on Nov. 23, and one after Monday’s official recount results.
“It’s like going through the election three times over,” he said.
Though Kreiss-Tomkins decided to run for representative at the very last minute – he filed on June 1 and had been contacted by recruiters only a week earlier – he said he knew from the beginning of his campaign that he could beat Thomas.
“I was in it to win it from day one. And I knew I could win. I didn’t know for sure I was going to win, but I knew I could win. That many others didn’t think that worked to our advantage certainly,” he said.
Kreiss-Tomkins said even though the campaign is over and the actual job is beginning, he will not abandon his allegiance to a “politics of humility” that he championed early in the campaign.
“Now that I’m elected I’m not just going to stop returning calls. I’m even more committed to being accessible and responsive, and not thinking I’m better than anybody. The job is to serve and I take that seriously,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.
Thomas had one piece of advice for his successor: “Don’t make promises you’re going to have to break.”
“That’s why I’ve never made promises. The hardest thing to do is to keep them in Juneau, especially if you’re in the minority,” Thomas said, referring to the House’s Republican majority.
Thomas did not attend the recount in Juneau because he had already made plans to travel to Texas before the recount issue arose. He said he had “bigger things than the election on my mind,” including upcoming surgery on both knees.
A fisherman for 43 years, Thomas said he intends to become involved in fish politics and seek out fish lobbying contracts.
Thomas’ Main Street office is being cleared out and will be closed in early January. Kreiss-Tomkins said there is a legislative information office in Sitka that has space for a legislator to work there, but he doesn’t know his budget yet and so has not made any decisions about where to locate an interim office.