BY MICHAEL ARMSTRONG
Coming off a tough Republican Party primary challenge in August, Rep. Paul Seaton easily won election to a sixth term, beating Democratic Party opponent Liz Diament 71 percent to 28 percent in unofficial results. Unlike the primary race against Homer businessman Jon Faulkner, where Faulkner won some precincts, in the general election Seaton won every District 30 precinct. It was the first test in a general election of Seaton’s popularity in a redrawn district that included new voters in precincts that had not been in the former District 35.
“I’m just very pleased that the voters in the district, and the new district as well, have chosen me to represent them again,” Seaton said in a phone call from Anchorage, where he was meeting with other legislators to discuss the next session’s organization and committee assignments. “I’ll do my best to represent them as well, and look carefully at all the bills that come forward as how they relate to the district and all Alaskans.”
Diament, 33, running in her first political campaign, promoted herself as a potential citizen legislator not tied to any special interest. She ran a spirited and enthusiastic campaign, for example, waving signs up to sundown on Tuesday on Pioneer Avenue as the temperatures dropped into the teens.
“I want to congratulate Mr. Seaton and thank him for making this a positive political experience,” Diament said in a statement.
“Through this process I learned a lot about the people of the peninsula and myself. I look forward to gaining civic experience and continuing to be an active member of my community.”
District 30 Democratic Party vice-chair Kate Finn praised Diament for challenging Seaton.
“What I hope part of her running did is inspire young people to step up and take the chance,” Finn said. “She’s an inspiration to young people, young Democrats, young Republicans.”
With almost a third of the voters not supporting Seaton, Finn said she hopes Seaton will re-examine some of his positions and ask why some constituents weren’t satisfied with him. Finn said she felt Seaton didn’t take a strong enough position against the Pebble mine project while Diament clearly said she felt Pebble is a bad idea.
Seaton was first elected in 2002, beating incumbent Rep. Drew Scalzi in the primary and then winning unopposed in the general election. In the 2010 election Seaton also had no opposition in the primary and general election.
Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche won in the general election for Senate District O, the new district that includes the lower Kenai Peninsula. Micciche beat incumbent Sen. Tom Wagoner in the Republican Party primary.
Homer District Court Judge Margaret Murphy also won retention on the bench, with 65 percent yes votes and 35 percent no.
In other District 30 results, local voters supported Rep. Don Young, R, 59 percent against Democratic Party challenger Sharon Cissna with 32 percent. Voters also approved the bond proposition 56 percent to 44 percent and rejected a call for a state constitutional convention by 28 percent to 72 percent.
Seaton said he didn’t know if the Senate bipartisan coalition would hold. Republicans gained two seats in the Senate, and could possibly gain two more in close races still undecided. Even with a Republican majority, a bipartisan coalition could survive depending on the dynamics among senators. In the past, some party members couldn’t agree on how to form a majority coalition, he said.
“That’s what started the bipartisan group,” Seaton said. “I don’t know if there are still those dynamics, or if everything is going to work much more uniformly.”
Diament thanked her campaign team and the people who worked for her. Se said she will run for office again, although whether at the state or local level, she didn’t know.
“I look forward to future campaigns and I hope my candidacy has inspired others to take a more active role in our local politics,” Diament said.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at email@example.com.