Editor, Valdez Star 

Rauscher beats Colver for House seat after cut-throat race

District 9 picks Republican's candidate after party dropped the incumbent


Valdez Star photo

Rep. Jim Colver was bested by George Rauscher of Sutton during last week's primary elections.

Partisan politics won over compromise in last Tuesday's primary election.

George Rauscher won the race for the Republican nomination to represent District 9 - which includes Valdez - in the Alaska House. Essentially, Rauscher can begin house hunting in Juneau because he is facing no opposition in the general election this November.

Rauscher won by 95 votes - which was 52.03 percent of the electorate.

The battle was hard won for Rauscher, who was taking a third shot at the seat.

The two candidates and their backers played hardball during the election process after the Alaska Republican Party dropped its backing of Colver, who had served only one term as a representative.

The party attacked Colver in social media, press releases and commercial advertising, accusing him of not embracing conservative values, voting with Democrats for his membership in the Musk Ox coalition, a group of bipartisan House Representatives.

Colver responded by stating in open editorials that his actions and votes in the Legislature were for the good of all Alaskans, not just conservatives.

Late in the campaign, Colver's backers placed ads on Facebook based on cellphone video at a town hall meeting where Rauscher choked on answering a tax question.

For its part, the Republican Party attacked Colver in open letters in newspapers and in expensive advertising.

In a full page color advertisement in the Valdez Star the week before the primary election, the Alaska Republican Party called Colver a "poser" and questioned his conservative principals.

State GOP chair Tuckerman Babcock also said Colver was a "con man" who would organize with Democrats as part of a new leadership structure on a whim.

Rauscher, of Sutton, will be the town's third House Representative in as many election cycles.

According to his election website, Rauscher is married with four children. He is active in his church, was an eight-year member of the Sutton Community Council and is a lifetime NRA member.

On the federal level, Sen. Lisa Murkowski easily won the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. She will face off against Democratic nominee Ray Metcalfe, who is not backed by his party. Murkowski also faces a third opponent, independent candidate Margaret Stock.

The Associated Press reports that despite facing a field of little-known challengers, Murkowski - still smarting from a 2010 primary loss to tea party upstart Joe Miller - took nothing for granted this go-round, building a huge fundraising edge over her newer entrant opponents, traveling the state and peppering the airwaves with ads. Murkowski held onto her seat in 2010 by mounting a general election write-in campaign supported by Alaskans across the political spectrum.

Republican Don Young and Democrat Steve Lindbeck easily won their primary U.S. House races.

The AP also reported that the race is "setting up a showdown in the general election."

Young is the longest-serving Republican in the House and is seeking a 23rd term. Lindbeck says Young doesn't have the clout those years of experience should bring, and there is a need for new leadership.

But at age 83, Don Young shows no signs of slowing down or any cooling of his fiery demeanor.

Eight years ago, the U.S. Rep. Young dubbed his Republican primary opponent, then-Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, "Captain Zero." This year, he has dismissed the 61-year-old Lindbeck as too old to replace him.

Valdez Star file photo

George Rauscher during the 2016 Independence Day parade in Valdez.


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