Rep. Neal Foster, the powerful Democrat co-chair of the House Finance Committee, is only 38 votes ahead in a primary race in which newcomer Tyler Ivanoff of Shishmaref challenged him.
Just one precinct — Diomede — has not yet reported, and the absentee ballots are yet to be counted.
Ivanoff filed to run against the legacy Democrat in Nome District 39. Foster is the son of the late Rep. Richard Foster, who represented the district from 1989 until his death in 2009.
Upon his death, Neal applied for his seat and was appointed by Gov. Sean Parnell. Foster was elected the following year and has served for the past decade.
Foster is a graduate of Nome-Beltz High School, Stanford University, and University of Alaska.
Ivanoff ran on a pro-Permanent Fund dividend platform, something that distinguishes him from Foster, who voted to cut the dividend and use a portion of it for state services.
Ivanoff was the mayor of the City of Elim and president of the Native Village of Elim.
“I’m here to Stand up for Alaskans and District 39. I will do anything I can to let the people of Alaska decide how they want to spend the Permanent Fund. It should never be the Legislatures decision, no matter how tough that decision may be. I’m all for protecting the PFD and enshrining the Original Formula in the State Constitution,” Ivanoff wrote on his campaign website.
Shishmaref is a small, isolated community of 550 people located on Sarichef Island in the Chukchi Sea, five miles from mainland Alaska. From the island, Russia can be seen on a clear day.
With few votes left to be counted, it’s a safe bet that Foster will retain his position as the Democratic nominee to face Republican Dan Holmes, who was unopposed and won 536 votes in the Republican primary.
But the Democrat race could tighten and be forced into a recount. Absentees will be counted starting Aug. 25.
The Foster-Ivanoff race is one of six Democrat primary contests for Alaska House seats this year. The only other close race is in District 1, where Bennie Colbert trails Christopher Quist, 384-395, with all precincts counted but no absentees accounted for. The only other incumbent Democrat to get a same-party challenge was Adam Wool of District 5 Fairbanks. He won 675 votes to Taryn Hughes’ 446 votes and will face Republican Kevin McKinley in the General Election — for a second match up. McKinley ran two years ago against Wool.