Recount affirms state Senate victory for French
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A critic of Gov. Sean Parnell's plan for reducing oil company taxes has retained his seat in the state Senate.
A Senate District J election recount affirmed a victory for Anchorage Democrat Hollis French over Republican Bob Bell.
Division Director Gail Fenumiai certified election results last week with French leading by 51 votes. She said by email that the recount Thursday gave French a 59-vote lead
The former assistant district attorney was first elected to the Senate in 2002. His 7,605 to 7,546 vote victory this year was his closest.
Bell said he asked for the recount for certainty. "We just wanted to be sure, and we are now," he said.
French's new election district formulated by a Republican-dominated Redistricting Board removed about two-thirds of his former constituents. French retained voters in west Anchorage but was cut out of Spenard and was instead was lumped into Sand Lake precincts.
"This was a district designed, frankly, to put me out of office, and they came close," French said by phone from Hawaii, where he is on vacation.
He described the redistricting as "packing and cracking": lumping as many Democrats as possible into a few districts and spreading the rest among districts dominated by Republicans. His unscientific analysis, he said, puts 60 percent of Anchorage Democrats into Senate districts won by Johnny Ellis and Berta Gardner.
District J now stretches south from the Turnagain neighborhood, which makes up House District 19, to the area from Raspberry Road to Dimond Boulevard in House District 20.
Bell outpolled French by 776 votes lead in District 20 but was beaten by 827 votes in District 19 in results certified last week.
"I was very strong in the neighborhoods that I had represented for 10 years," French said. "That kind of makes sense. To me it's gratifying to have gotten very, very strong support out of the neighborhoods that knew me the best."