As Bieling drops, District 28 GOP Primary is down to two



Republican candidate Ross Bieling dropped from the Aug. 18 Primary ballot, leaving Republican voters to choose between Rep. Jennifer Johnson and challenger James Kaufman for District 28, South Anchorage.

Bieling is not out of the race for House yet. He has filed as an unaffiliated candidate for the General Election, meaning that he could make November into a four-way race.

Adam Lees, a Democrat, is the only Democrat running for the seat in the Primary. Lees, an aide to Anchorage Assemblywoman Suzanne LaFrance, will advance to the November ballot easily. He and Beiling have history; a few years ago Beiling accused Lees of stealing some of his campaign signs.

The General Election ballot will be crowded with Beiling and another nonaligned candidate: Benjamin Fletcher. That makes four for November.

And then there’s a write-in candidate as well, one Adolph (Louis A.) Garcia from Girdwood. He’s a non-aligned candidate who said he’d be a write-in for November. If history is an indicator, he might get up to 45 votes.

These extra candidates in November spell trouble for Johnston’s reelection.

In 2016, Johnston’s first run for House, she won a strong 56 percent of the vote — 5,903 votes for Johnston compared to 4,606 for Democrat Shirley Cote. There were 44 write-in names.

In 2018, Rep. Johnston won over Democrat Amber Lee with 54.23 percent of the vote in the General Election, 5,557 to 4,628. There were no nonaligned candidates on the ballot for the district that year and there were 24 write-in names.

With 344 fewer voters cast ballots in that race in 2018 compared with the presidential General Election of 2016, the results show that the margin closed a bit for Johnston — some 346 voters were not with her during her second run for the seat, or about a 3.38 percent erosion of support.

With Bieling and Fletcher peeling off an unknown number votes in November, this seat may get handed to a Democrat. It would be a slim victory for the Democrat in a district that voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton (5,423 to 4,729) in 2016, but with extra names on the ballot, this is doable for a Democrat and will most certainly end up being a targeted race by the Alaska Democratic Party.

On the other hand, Bieling has indicated he may drop out if Kaufman wins the Republican Primary. But if Johnston wins, all bets are off.

Primary candidates have until June 29 to drop from that ballot. General Election candidates have until Aug. 31 to drop.


  1. How topical; All this faux talk of “systemic” bigotry lately, and we actually have a TRUE bigot, right here, who is a part of the system, and this district keeps voting her in. Time to rectify that. Here’s one “social injustice” the people of South Anchorage can actually do something about. Put a real Republican and a real Alaskan in there who thinks the people of Alaska can be trusted to spend their own money and own their own property, and aren’t field hands or serfs, working her and her elite friends plantation.

  2. This seat is already taken by a Democrat who calls herself a Republican. She is cut from the same cloth as Lisa Murkowski. It was no lost sleep to have her caucus with the Democrats. If it quacks like a Democrat, it is a Democrat. This article should applaud Ross for his unselfish act, not hammer on him.

    • I realize long memories are in short supply, but I’ve yet to see an answer as to whether or not this is the same Jennifer Johnston who was Bettye Fahrenkamp’s campaign chair many moons ago.

  3. Hey! I have talked to Ross Bieling and he is committed to getting a State House Rep in this district that more clearly supports Gov. Dunleavy’s reforms and strengthening the red color of the district. Ross made a classy support statement for James Kaufman on Facebook. Ross did not want to split the reform R vote in the primary. How often do you see that kind of cooperation and team playing on the R side?? Thank you, Ross!!

  4. Seems like a shrewd political maneuver on the part of Mr. Bieling. A three way primary will favor the incumbent, if Mr. Kaufman wins the primary Mr. Bieling can drop out and if the RINO wins Mr. Bieling can offer a choice of two who support a leftist agenda or one who offers a right leaning agenda. Perhaps the incumbent has an advantage in the general election, but one right leaning candidate vs two leftists should be an easy choice for anyone on the right.

  5. Probably best for Bieling to sit out. Maybe trying to fix that residency issue that keeps following him.

  6. Mike D needs to review the ruling from the State of Alaska Department of Elections – their was no residency problem and they rule he could run in the 2016 election in – We should thank Ross for his unselfish Act and if James doesn’t take her out – Ross can have a try in the General Elections. He does average around 1,200 votes without any support from the ARP or Republican’s in District 28.

    Ross is our insurance if the election doesn’t work out in the Republican Primary Election.

    D Morgan

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