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Senate balance of power at stake in election

Associated Press Modified: November 7, 2012 at 3:45 am •  Published: November 7, 2012

The coalition last year refused to follow the House and pass Parnell's oil tax-cut plan, which critics called a massive corporate giveaway with no guarantees it would mean additional investment here. Coalition leaders at the time said they didn't have the information needed to make a sound policy call.

This year, an overhaul of the tax structure stalled in the coalition caucus, but the Senate approved a narrower plan, intended to encourage oil production from new fields, late in the regular session. That died in the House. Lawmakers in both parties and chambers lambasted a Parnell tax-cut plan proposed during a special session and eventually pulled.

Boosting oil production is a top economic priority for Parnell, who sees changing Alaska's oil tax system as a way to do that. Alaska relies heavily on oil taxes to run, but production has been declining.

No one in the Legislature has argued with the desire to increase production; the debate lies in how best to do that.

Redistricting shook up a number of districts, throwing four incumbents together on the Senate side and eight in the House.

Senate District A featured Thomas against Republican Senate Minority Leader John Coghill of North Pole. French faced Bob Bell, in an expensive and sometime contentious campaign.

On the House side, Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, the House majority whip, won in a three-way race that included Rep. Kyle Johansen, R-Ketchikan. Johansen, a former House majority leader, ran as an unaffiliated candidate in House District 33, after skipping a crowded GOP primary in August. He finished a distant third, behind Democrat Matt Olsen.

Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt held a lead over Democratic Rep. Pete Petersen in District 25 in Anchorage, and was confident the outstanding absentee ballots favored him; Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, led Rep. Bob Miller, D-Fairbanks, in District 2, with all precincts reporting and Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks, was leading Rep. Alan Dick, R-Nenana, in early results in District 38, with non-affiliated candidate Dorothy Shockley in third.

Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, faced a possible upset against political newcomer Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, who led with all precincts reporting.