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Saturday, February 16, 2019
HomeColumnsRep. Knopp explains why he rejects Republicans

Rep. Knopp explains why he rejects Republicans

CALLS FOR A 50-50 SPLIT CAUCUS

In a column that ran in the Kenai Peninsula-Clarion, Rep. Gary Knopp, District 30, explains why he doesn’t believe in a Republican-led caucus:

His explanation, in full:

To all of my constituents, my neighbors and my friends — You are the reason I am here in Juneau.

I have not forgotten that, and your opinions are important to me. Which is why I need to explain my decision to step away from the state House Republican caucus. I hope you will understand my action and agree with me that it is the best decision for Alaska.

I’ll start off by apologizing for the uncertainty, unrest and not getting this message out sooner. I had hoped it would not take so long for the House to organize itself and start work this session.

The first misconception I have heard from some of you is that I have changed my political beliefs. I want to reassure all of you that I will not be joining the Democrats. Nothing against them as individuals, but that’s not where I belong. Though I stepped away from the fragile Republican caucus, I did not abandon my values, principles or my party.

My intentions are not to divide my caucus but rather to help it succeed. A 21-member majority simply will not be successful. You must increase the numbers, a bipartisan coalition would accomplish this.

The very slim Republican majority that gathered after the November election was doomed to fail. With only 21 very diverse members, every member of the caucus would be needed to get anything done in the 40-member House, especially electing a speaker and passing a budget.

The biggest problem with a 21-member majority is that every single legislator has veto power over every single issue every day. I believe such a minimal majority would not serve our state well. It would be contentious and fall far short of the productive legislative work that we need.

To be perfectly honest, even after the November election, we never had a truly functional Republican majority in the House. Yes, 23 Republicans were elected but only 20 committed to joining the governing caucus. Those other three each had their own reasons not to sign on. But regardless of the reasons, it meant no group had enough committed House members to organize into a majority.

I have spoken with many of my Republican colleagues who agree with me on the necessity of creating a solid, working coalition to move the House forward in the most effective and successful manner possible.

Legislators need to resolve our personal differences to focus on taking care of Alaska. To get the job done, we need to work together to overcome the substantial challenges we face as a state — building a stronger economy, educating our children and college-age students, reducing crime and showing the public that elected officials can do their job without partisanship.

My proposal is simple:

Create a bipartisan coalition to govern the House. My hope is to have upwards of 24 members. A 50/50 split would be ideal. The key leadership positions would be divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats, nominated by coalition members and elected by simple majority of the coalition.

During the 1st session of the 31st Legislature all members would agree to the following terms:

• No changes to the state’s oil and gas tax credits.

• No broad-based tax proposals, such as a state income or sales tax.

• Minimize the introduction of personal legislation in order to avoid distractions and hopefully to lessen the odds of extended or special sessions.

Not that other issues are not important or worthy of discussion, but we need to focus all energy on the people’s top priority. Which is PFD, crime reform and the budget. We are now eight days into Alaska’s 31st legislative session and we are falling behind schedule. The House cannot organize, elect a speaker, appoint committee chairs and set a work agenda until a majority is established. It’s time we get to work.

I want to assure the constituents of District 30 that I did not take my decision lightly. I knew that forcing the issue would disrupt the process and push my colleagues into making hard decisions. But I felt then, and still believe now, that at the end of the day my responsibility is to represent the people of this district to the best of my abilities. Political parties are good, but they are not the sole deciding factor.

This will remain my goal as long as I have the honor of serving as your Republican Representative. I want to reassure you that conversations are ongoing daily, we are slowly moving through this process in hopes of being organized and open for business very soon!

Please feel free to call the office at 907-465-2693 with any questions or concerns.

— Representative Gary Knopp,

District 30


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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Actions speak louder than words. When you say you want to get something done and purposely act in a way that makes it impossible to do anything, you don’t just have a negative impact on your district, but on everyone else’s as well.

    • I came in here to leave a comment and let Mr Knopp know how unhappy we are with his turncoat tactics. But I don’t have to write an entire diatribe, I just want to double down on everyone else’s post. Couldn’t have said it better.

  • Well this isn’t a very encouraging read. Only a small part of the conservative agenda is in Rep. Knopp’s manifesto. Conspicuously missing is Governor Dunleavy’s primary agenda items. Reduce state spending and get tough on criminals. Gary gives one lousy tiny sentence as lip service to this agenda: “Which is PFD, crime reform and the budget.”, but nobody has to agree to any of those things to be in the caucus?? Yeah right – what a plan!

    Alaska has 23,000 state government workers. That is almost 3 times what we need. We simply must reduce this state workforce to only what is needed if we are to have any hope of getting this spending under control, yet Gary Knopp doesn’t even mention that. What a crock!

    http://alaskapolicyforum.org/2018/10/right-sizing-alaskas-state-government-workforce-part-ii/

    Kenai voters please RISE UP! Tell your elected representative to get with the program or he’ll be outed like real quick. Backing Gary in joining the other turncoats in this farce is making all of you look really lame.

  • You seem to relish possessing the very same single vote veto you admonish against. HMMMMM…

  • Faulty reasoning by Mr. Knopp. His 12 from each Party coalition is NOT going to happen. Will he return to the Party and allow the process to work or is he still dreaming ? The 21-19 worked last session even if to the detriment of his Party with a Dem Coalition. Please listen to the pleas of your Party, Mr. Knopp. The R majority will work, slim though it is.

    • well said

    • Yes, he seems delusional to me. I listened to him on KSRM radio today. He seems to think he can save the legislature all by himself and work a miracle to bring Dems and Reps together. Yet, he says it’s not possible to bring his own party together. His strategy is not working nor will it ever. He should join with his party and work to support the Governor.

  • It becomes obvious to anyone that is paying attention, the only time bipartisanship achieves results is when conservatives capitulate to the agenda of the liberals.
    Gary’s motives may or may not be pure, but his naivety will continue to cripple any conservative change moving forward.

  • If Rep Knopp was unable to form a bi-partisan caucus before session began, he should have abandoned the idea as soon as he was sworn in. He is now a grandstanding obstructionist who is damaging the entire state.

    His statement that the R caucus is too diverse contradicts his goal of making a bi-partisan caucus of both R and D members. I don’t understand why he can’t see how a bi-partisan caucus would be the most diverse caucus of all.

    It is so inappropriate that one person, not chosen as leadership, thinks he should force everyone else to do his will. The legislature is a team sport – a caucus needs to form before anything else can happen. He is obviously not a team player – he is a water boy who wants to be quarterback, and nobody will get water until they agree to his terms. He needs to be kicked off the team and replaced with a team player.

    I find it interesting that both Ds and Rs agreed to vote on a permanent speaker yesterday. They both wanted Rep Knopp to pick a team and join it, so they could move on. Nope. He is content to hog all the water for himself, and let the rest go thirsty. They will have to look for a different water boy, imo.

    • Well said Carol.

      • agreed

  • We’ve had these coalitions before and it always means Republicans compromising but not dems. The split in ideologies is too wide for another disastrous coalition.

  • If you run on the Republican plat form you should stay with the Republican agenda. Other wise you are a disgrace to your party and should resign.

  • Rep Knopp, you were elected in
    a district that is heavily weighted with GOP voters! They expected you to caucus with the republicans in the house. Your deception and disregard of your constituents will cost you a second term. Two years will go by quickly and your actions will not be forgotten. You can correct this very easily by getting back onboard and doing the right thing by your district. If you don’t you will see an abrupt end to any political career you might have been interested in.

  • Anyone as committed to The Cause as Gary should be calling for legislators to return their per diem for the time they’ve wasted…
    .
    Maybe keeping the House-Lobbyist team dysfunctional is a stroke of genius…
    .
    Last session that group seemed all about stiffing productive Alaskans with taxes and no Republican who wanted to keep a committee seat would dare to object…
    .
    Not sure what’s changed, lobbyists and sponsors still want their money and the House, or team, or coalition, or whatever you want to call it is there to get it for them.
    .
    Get your waders, it’s gonna get deeper…

  • How about a coalition to end abortion. Believing big people and governments can attain benefits but spilling the blood of little ones is a demonic religion that we should all jump to take a stand against. Our land is cursed from the blood of the innocent little ones spilled on our watch.

    If the Aztecs were doing their thing over in the valley, would it be ok because of religious freedom?

  • Mr Knopp’s excuses are just that, excuses. It is apparent he does not understand simple math. I would suggest that the real reason for his grandstanding has to do with his personal goals of leadership within the party. I have no doubt that his constituents will remember his antics.

  • Dear Kenai friends,

    May I suggest you become more familiar with this:

    The recall of elected government officials in Alaska is governed by Alaska Statute 29.26.240 through 29.26.360.
    The recall law can be used to recall:
    All elected public officers of Alaska, except for judges/judicial officers, including members of the Alaska State Legislature, the Governor of Alaska, and other statewide elected officials.

    Sadly, the statute also says that recall cannot happen until the person has served 120 days of their term. The question then becomes is that 120 days from when the Lt. Governor swore in Mr. Knopp, or 120 days from election day.

  • These comments show how naive the majority of readers on this blog are. Gary is 100% right, the republican caucus, as proposed will fail. Anyone who actually pays attention to what goes on at the capital knows why, there is no reason for me to say his name. Every vote would be held hostage and the House Republicans would be the butt of every joke. It took courage to do what Gary did, and now he’ll be persecuted by the ill informed.

    • So he should be a Democrat? As the old saying goes ” you are either with us, or you’re against us.” Even for me it’s pretty simple.

    • You’re delusional… Rep Knopp do your damn job instead of running your mouth about a whole lot of nothing. Blah blah blah..

    • Not naïve, just pis… really vexed that yet again some bloody stupid excuse surfaces to prevent Alaska’s House of Representatives and Lobbyists from doing the public’s business reasonably expeditiously without stiffing productive members of the public in the process…
      .
      Takes something to thumb your nose deliberately at your voters, refuse to do your job, and disrupt your colleagues’ ability to do their job…
      .
      Not sure that’s the definition of “courage”…

  • The reason it won’t work is because I’m not in it is the reason it won’t work.

  • I don’t remember Mr. Knopp running for office on his new “platform”, I think it would have made headlines if he was vocal about it. I have to believe that his supporters and the people who elected him did so because he ran for office as a Republican. And, after the fiasco of the House of Representatives being run by a minority number of Democrats joined by three turncoat Republicans for the last two years, there was an emphasis this last election cycle to send non turncoat Republicans to the legislature. So now Mr. Knopp is screwing up the process for his benefit , thinking that he will be awarded the speaker position. This is my take.

  • I’m very disappointed that your personal agenda – whatever it is – has disrupted legislative business to the detriment of all Alaska and to your own district constituents. Rep. Bob Lynn, Retired.

    • Amen Bob. There are plenty of ways for Knopp to make a point. This isn’t it. Get to work!

  • I appreciate Representative Knopp for explaining what he is trying to accomplish.

    I support the goals he said he is trying to achieve:

    No changes to the state’s oil and gas tax credits.

    • No broad-based tax proposals, such as a state income or sales tax.

    • Minimize the introduction of personal legislation in order to avoid distractions and hopefully to lessen the odds of extended or special sessions.

    I agree with him that the legislature needs to focus all its energy on the people’s top priorities. Which are the PFD, crime reform, and the budget.

    My hat’s off to him if he pulls off the coalition he desires. If legislators (and we) stay focused on the the goals he is trying to accomplish rather than the personalities or party labels, they might be able form a coalition that could achieve these goals and we would all benefit.

    I wish him well.

  • Recall.

  • Mr. Knopp resides in no-man’s land, a tool of the Democrats, a pawn in the devil’s workshop. His arguments are the craft of a confused man, unwilling to to be guided by any principles at all. Unwilling to close ranks on the opposing party and join the ranks of the majority to which he was elected to do. Feckless and slothful. And contrary to what Mr. Prax stated, i do not wish Mr. Knopp well.

  • Overheard in the Capitol post office between two Democrat legislators,
    “Knopp is the reason that I have hope we can bury Dunleavy in Trump-style scandals, by Mid-May.”
    THIS is what Knopp brings to the table, folks.

  • Knopp is on the wrong track. If you are against Republicans, you are either a Democrat or an independent opposing Republicans. He thinks he is exercising Lisa Murkowski swing power, but he is costing Alaskans time and money by not being true to the party he claimed to be part of to his electorate. It’s time to be humble and get back on track. So far, the only thing he has demonstrated is that he cannot be trusted. Beware.

  • He’s no different than Murkowski, chameleon with a slither. He just justifies it through his need for attention.

  • Its odd that Knopp’s strategy wasn’t brought up during the campaign. Maybe he thought no one would vote for him if he revealed it…..ya think?? The act of ommission is just as fraudulant as outright lies and shows he has little respect for those who voted for him. I am not a fan of party politics but deception is worse.

  • District 30: You have a problem….Knopp. He crossed the deceptive line and there is no turning back….just more deception.

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