Fishing boat malfunction causes former Alaska state lawmaker to drop out of election

By: James Brooks, Alaska Beacon
(Getty Images)

A broken boat engine is causing former Republican Rep. Bill Thomas to cancel his plans to challenge Democratic Rep. Andi Story for a state House seat representing northern Southeast Alaska, Thomas said.

Thomas, 77, is Story’s lone opponent in this year’s legislative elections but said recent mechanical troubles with his fishing boat have left him no time to campaign while earning a living as a fisherman.

The planned withdrawal was first reported by the Juneau Empire.

“I’m a commercial fisherman first, and my engine’s not running,” Thomas said when reached by phone on Monday. “I can’t afford to go campaign while I’m trying to make a living fishing.”

Thomas’ financial disclosure form states that he and his spouse, Joyce, are commercial fishers, each earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year.

Thomas’ withdrawal has not yet been processed by the Alaska Division of Elections, which still lists him as a candidate.

June 29 is the deadline for a candidate to pull their name from the Aug. 20 primary election ballot. After that, a candidate may suspend their campaign, but their name will still appear on the primary ballot.

Nine of the 50 legislative seats up for election this year feature candidates running unopposed. Most are in districts with strong partisan leans, including Democratic-leaning Juneau, where Reps. Sara Hannan and Story are unopposed, as is Sen. Jesse Kiehl.

In Eagle River, Republican Rep. Dan Saddler is unopposed, as are Republican Reps—Delena Johnson of Palmer and Cathy Tilton of Wasilla.