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The lower Kuskokwim region has a contested state Senate race and unopposed House race

Conrad "CJ" McCormick (left) is running to represent House District 38 and Sen. Lyman Hoffman  (right) is running to represent Senate District S in the 2022 state primary election. Both are running unopposed.
Olivia Ebertz/KYUK/Tripp Crouse/KNBA/ Courtesy of Willy Keppel
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(left) Conrad "CJ" McCormick is running to represent House District 38. (right) Incumbent Sen. Lyman Hoffman and (bottom) challenger Willy Keppel are running to represent Senate District S in the 2022 state primary election.

A slim list of candidates will appear on the state primary election ballot, competing to represent the lower Kuskokwim River area. June 1 marked the filing deadline to appear on that ballot.

Two candidates have filed for the District S seat in the Alaska Senate, representing Bethel, the lower Kuskokwim River area, Bristol Bay region, and Aleutian Islands. The candidates are incumbent Sen. Lyman Hoffman and challenger Willy Keppel.

Hoffman is a registered Democrat and has held the senate seat for 29 years. Before that, he served as a state representative for six years. He is the state’s longest-serving legislator and is from Bethel.

Keppel is registered with the Veterans of Alaska Party. He lives in Quinhagak, where he is a hunting and fishing guide. Previously, Keppel lived in Bethel, where he served one year on Bethel City Council and was not re-elected for the following term. This is his fourth bid for state office. He challenged Hoffman twice before, in 2002 and 2006. Then in 2020, he challenged Rep. Tiffany Zulksosky for the House District 38 seat. He lost each time.

Only one candidate filed to run for the District 38 seat in the Alaska House of Representatives, representing the lower Kuskokwim River, Bethel, Nunivak Island, and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta coast. Bethel Vice Mayor Conrad “CJ” McCormick is making his first bid for state office and is running unopposed for the seat. The registered Democrat has municipal political experience. He is serving his first full term on the city council, and he also served a shorter term.

McCormick grew up in Bethel and works at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation in the Communications Department. His supervisor currently holds the seat he is running for. Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky announced at the end of the legislative session last month that she would not be seeking another term. Zulkosky told KYUK that she had not encouraged McCormick to run, but is excited for his candidacy.

Two other Bethel residents had filed letters of intent with the state to allow them to collect campaign contributions for the House District 38 race, but both ultimately decided not to file as candidates. They are Bethel Mayor Mark Springer and former state Representative Bob Herron. Both told KYUK that it was a family decision not to file. Springer said he had encouraged McCormick to run.

The state primary election is August 16, 2022.

Updated: June 2, 2022 at 10:50 AM AKDT
This story has been updated to say that Willy Keppel has file as a candidate in the Alaska Senate District S race.
Anna Rose MacArthur is the KYUK News Director. She has worked at KYUK since 2015 and previously worked at KNOM in Nome, Alaska.
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