Alaska court: Anchorage Democrat Armstrong qualified for House seat

a portrait of a woman in a sweater
Jennie Armstrong. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

A divided Alaska Supreme Court ruled Friday that an Anchorage Democrat who won a state House race was a qualified candidate.

Earlier in the week, Superior Court Judge Herman Walker Jr. issued a decision finding that Democrat Jennifer “Jennie” Armstrong met residency requirements and accepting the results of the November election. His decision was appealed by Republican Liz Vazquez, who lost to Armstrong, and four others who had joined her in challenging Armstrong’s win.

A brief order from the state Supreme Court, shortly after hearing arguments in the case Friday, said simply: “We affirm the superior court’s ultimate conclusion that Ms. Armstrong was a qualified candidate as required by law. A full decision will follow.”

Three justices heard the case: Chief Justice Daniel Winfree and Justices Jennifer Henderson and Susan Carney. Carney dissented, writing that she would reverse Walker’s finding that Armstrong was qualified.

Vazquez’s lawsuit alleged that Armstrong had not been an Alaska resident for at least three years immediately before filing for office and that Armstrong was therefore not qualified for the office.

Under the state constitution, to serve in the legislature one must be a “qualified voter who has been a resident of Alaska for at least three years and of the district from which elected for at least one year, immediately preceding his filing for office.” The filing deadline was June 1.

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