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11/24/2012
Newcomer wins 34 by 34

By NICK BOWMAN

Daily News Staff Writer

Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins has taken the House District 34 race by 34 votes.

The Alaska Division of Elections on Friday certified the results of the race between Kreiss-Tomkins and incumbent Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines.

Kreiss-Tomkins won 4,125 to 4,091. The 34-vote difference is within the threshold for a recount, should one be requested by Thomas.

Thomas took 49.7 percent of the vote and the 23-year-old Kreiss-Tomkins took 50.11 percent.

Thomas said he’ll consider asking for a recount.

"I’ve been talking to friends and people who’ve helped me,"?Thomas said about deciding whether to request the recount.

He has five days after he’s notified that the results were certified to make his decision.

Kreiss-Tomkins said that winning the election wasn’t his goal.

"I said at the beginning of the election that the election wasn’t the goal — the goal was to make Southeast a better place," he said. "I really meant that. I’m excited to be one step closer to the goal."

He said he wasn’t surprised to win, but that he "didn’t anticipate the electoral yo-yo," of falling behind and then pulling ahead, with different vote counts putting the contenders closer to and further away from a tie.

"I think this couldn’t have been more dramatic and entertaining for those who watch politics and elections," he said.

Drama remains.

Thomas disputed a characterization of comments favorable to Kreiss-Tomkins as an endorsement by Ethel Lund, an Alaska Native renowned in Southeast for her work with health care, for Kreiss-Tomkins.

"I expected a cleaner campaign. I was concerned with the misrepresentation of an endorsement by an individual," Thomas said Friday, referring to Lund.

He said Kreiss-Tomkins announced the endorsement and made fliers advertising it, but Thomas alleged that the endorsement claim by Kreiss-Tomkins was inaccurate.

Still, Thomas said, he’s "not going to cry foul" because of the dispute.

"I think it was totally wrong to use a Native elder that way,"?he said.

A?photo was released with Kreiss-Tomkins and Lund standing together. The candidate is holding one his campaign signs in the photo.

A newspaper advertisement was printed showing the photo, according to a Nov. 7 news report on KCAW-FM in Sitka, and quoting Lund as saying "I support Jonathan because of his integrity and his sincerity, and because he has the new energy and fresh approach we need for the future."

Lund made the comment in early October after Kreiss-Tomkins spoke at the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood Grand Camp Convention in Sitka. He said there wasn’t any ambiguity about the nature of her support when Lund made the comments.

On Friday, Lund said her support was for Kreiss-Tomkins’ address at the convention, which focused on his travel in Southeast and the many Native villages in the region.

"I wasn’t speaking politically," she said. "I didn’t even think of it as a political comment."

Lund said her comments weren’t unusual in the context of the ANB?convention.

"It’s the nature of delegates at the convention to encourage young people," she said. "At that convention it wasn’t a political context."

Lund said she would have spoken differently if she had been asked to comment politically.

"Had I been asked to make a political comment, it would have been pointing out that he’s young, he’s got energy, he’s got good intentions, but he needs time to learn the process," she said.

Lund said her comments and the response they received were "just blown up needlessly."

Kreiss-Tomkins spoke similarly.

"I think she and I both regret that (we) even did it because it caused that kind of backlash," Kreiss-Tomkins said.

But Kreiss-Tomkins said the campaign is finished and he’s proud of the effort to elect him.

"It was hundreds of people across Southeast Alaska running one of the most dynamic grassroots campaign this cycle," he said. "People invested their time, their money, their trust in this campaign.

"It’s been an awesome experience," he said.