Former Soldotna state Rep. Gillham to challenge Ruffridge

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Ron Gillham speaks during a Soldotna town hall event at The Catch restaurant in April 2021. (File/KDLL)

A conservative former lawmaker from Soldotna is making a bid to return to the state Legislature. Ron Gillham filed to run for state House on Wednesday. He’ll face incumbent Rep. Justin Ruffridge, the fellow Republican who unseated Gillham in 2022, as he vies for the central Kenai Peninsula’s seat in the Alaska House of Representatives.

Gillham is a former construction worker who also spent time in the oil and gas industry. He had held the House seat for a two-year term after beating incumbent Rep. Gary Knopp, who died in a plane crash during the 2020 election cycle.

During his time in office, Gillham sponsored several bills focused on K-12 education and the COVID-19 vaccine. The bills included one that would have expanded vaccine exemptions and another that would have prohibited so-called “indoctrination” in public schools.

He attracted controversy in 2021 after sharing a social media post that compared media and medical professionals to Nazi war criminals.

Gillham’s filing comes two days before the Saturday filing deadline. Candidates interested in running for state office must file with the Alaska Public Offices Commission by June 1. Gillham could not be reached for comment before airtime.

This year’s state primary election is on Aug. 20. Election Day is Nov. 5.

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