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Of course, Johansen didn't come right out and say that he couldn't beat Wilson. Instead, he says he’s running as an independent because it’s the best way to reach the largest number of voters. “This being a presidential year, there’s going to be a huge turnout in November and with the way the Republican primary is set up – it’s closed somewhat – I just felt it was a better opportunity for all of the people of District 1 [now designated House District 33 because of re-districting] to choose who they really want,” Johansen explained. He claims to be disheartened by party politics in general. Johansen says that, if elected, he'll join whatever majority caucus allows him in.
What's probably more disheartening to him is that local Republicans tried unsuccessfully to recall him as a result of his "Love Caucus" caper. In 2010, Johansen abruptly quit as House Majority Leader because another lawmaker, Rep. Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage), quit the majority caucus when she didn't become chair of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee. They're referred to as the Love Caucus because it was rumored that Johansen and Millett, who had divorced their respective spouses, were romantically involved with one another; it's not known if their romantic involvement began before or after their divorces. Regardless, Ketchikan residents were outraged, and the local newspaper called for Johansen's resignation.
Johansen soldiered on and made plans to run for re-election in 2012. Then in December 2011, the new district boundaries were publicly released, and Wrangell Rep. Peggy Wilson found herself in Johansen's district. After considerable deliberation, Wilson decided to run against Johansen for a seventh term in the State House because she had unfinished business involving the Alaska Marine Highway System and coastal zone management. Wilson has a solid reputation of being studious and avoiding grandstanding. Both Johansen and Wilson received good ratings from the Alaska Business Report Card, and VoteSmart has pages on Johansen and Wilson which show their voting records and special interest ratings. There are also three other candidates for this seat; Ketchikan Visitors Bureau Director Patty Mackey and Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly Member Agnes Moran have filed as Republicans, while Ketchikan City Council Member Matt Olsen will run as a Democrat. David Scott dropped out.
Longtime Ketchikan Republican activist Dick Coose, a member of the city council who helped organize the recall effort, doesn't think much of Johansen's chances and suspects Johansen bolted the primary out of fear he could not defeat Wilson. I'm predicting a Wilson victory in both August and in November.