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Hollis French lead dwindles in Alaska Senate nail-biter for West Anchorage seat

Alaska Dispatch
Jill Burke photo

Alaska State Sen. Hollis French, the incumbent West Anchorage Democrat, looks to be hanging on to his narrow lead over Republican challenger Bob Bell. After the Nov. 6 election, French was ahead by 247 votes. But the post-election night tally did not reflect absentee and questioned ballots.

The count of those outstanding ballots began this week. Late Tuesday afternoon, the Alaska Division of Elections posted an update on its website showing that only 56 votes now separate the candidates, with French maintaining the upper hand. During the count, Bell gained 191 votes.

The new tally:

  • Sen. Hollis French - 7,562 votes
  • Bob Bell - 7,506 votes

The count isn't over. Absentee ballots have approximately two weeks to come in after the election, provided they are post-marked no later than Nov. 6. By-mail ballots sent from within the United States must be received by the Division of Elections by Nov. 16. Those from overseas and military addresses must be received by Nov. 21.

French, a member of last year's defunct Senate Bipartisan Majority Working Group, faced in Bell a former Anchorage assemblyman and state wildlife regulator whose candidacy had solid backing from the Alaska Republican Party and its influential chairman, Randy Ruedrich. Bell also had the support of Gov. Sean Parnell and at least two of Alaska's Big Three oil producers.

The election is scheduled to be certified Dec. 3.