While Election Day was last week, Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins ’13 will not know whether or not he has won a seat in the Alaska State House of Representatives until this Wednesday.
Kreiss-Tomkins, who is taking a year off from Yale to run for State Representative in District 34 of his home state, is currently behind his opponent, Republican Rep. Bill Thomas, by just two votes. But more ballots may be arriving in coming days, as today is the deadline for domestic by-mail absentee ballots and Wednesday is the deadline for international by-mail absentee ballots.
“[Watching ballot results] is like watching Olympic coverage, and the terrible irony is that I’m one of the competitors, and I don’t know whether I’ve won,” Kreiss-Tomkins said. “As soon as there’s a winner, there’s going to be a recount.”
Eli Bildner ’11, one of Kreiss-Tomkins’ campaign managers, said that it is impossible to predict the election’s outcome, adding that the election could be a tie.
“Being down two votes is the difference between one vote being miscounted,” Bildner said.
Before the election, Republicans held a 24–16 majority in the House. Were Kreiss-Tomkins to lose, that majority would increase to 26–14.
Bildner said that on the night of the election, the preliminary results had Kreiss-Tomkins up by 44 votes, but after the absentee ballots came in, the Yalie was lagging by 43 votes.
Co-campaign manager Tully McLoughlin ’11 noted that the margin separating the candidates was only 0.2 percent, adding that because the final votes are arriving by mail, and the campaign doesn’t know where they are coming from, it is difficult to know if Kreiss-Tomkins has an advantage.
Today, two more ballots will be counted in Port Alexander, and on Monday, the divisional ballots that have been trickling in by mail will be counted, Kreiss-Tomkins said. Any absentee ballots that arrive by mail from Thursday, Nov. 15, to Wednesday, Nov. 21, will be counted that Wednesday, he added.
Kreiss-Tomkins ran unopposed for the Democratic Party nomination in August and campaigned against Thomas, the Republican incumbent who out-fundraised Kreiss-Tomkins by around 40 percent, Bildner said. He added that the majority of Kreiss-Tomkins’ funds have come from in-district donations, while 80 percent of Thomas’ have come from outside.
Instead, the Kreiss-Tomkins campaign has benefitted most from the time and effort of volunteers, Bildner said. McLoughlin said that Kreiss-Tomkins’s campaign has seen around 70 volunteers who canvassed and phone banked for the candidate.
“It was never about outraising and outspending our opponent. It was a very people-centric campaign,” McLoughlin added.
Kreiss-Tomkins noted that the populations of some of the District 34 villages are almost completely Alaska Native.
“Many of [the communities] are extremely isolated. It’s a world completely removed from the lower 48 states,” he said, adding that he thinks District 34 is the most beautiful congressional district in the nation. “I want to make the world a better place, including my own little corner of the world. I deeply care about southeast Alaska, my home.”
District 34 has a population of roughly 15,000 people.