During its winter meeting in Anchorage today, Alaska Republican Party officers from around the state publicly rebuked three sitting legislators for having broken away from the House majority in order to form a majority with Democrats.
Gabrielle LeDoux of District 15-Anchorage, Paul Seaton of District 31-Homer, and Louise Stutes of District 32-Kodiak, defected from the Republican-led majority to accept powerful committee positions with a Democratic Party organization. LeDoux was able to capture the Rules chairmanship, controlling what gets to the House floor. Seaton is co-chair of House Finance while Stutes is majority whip.
Although Republicans had won the majority of seats in both houses of the Alaska Legislature, the defection of the three caused the Alaska House to be controlled by Democrats for the first time in 22 years.
“These legislators snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory,” said Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock. “It’s as if they put on a team shirt for the opposing team. We have every right to try to replace the vacancies they’ve left on our team.”
The three were given an opportunity to defend their actions before a vote was taken.
Stutes said that when Chairman Babock asked her to return the $1,000 contribution that Alaska Republicans had made to her campaign, she was happy to give the money to the Salvation Army instead.
“My number one priority is to my constituents. My number two is to the state of Alaska. Three and four is to the party and the caucus. I’m going to be caucusing with whomever is going to be moving the state forward in a positive manner,” Stutes said, indicating that she feels the Democrats will do that.
Rep. LeDoux blamed the Republican majority for her defection and said she was only following in the tradition of Sen. Lyda Green, who led a bipartisan coalition several years prior.
“We have a hell of a fiscal problem brought to us by the majority I served with,” LeDoux said. “I make no apologies. I think what are are doing is best for the state. We are going to do that we’re going to do and you’re going to do what you’re going to do.”
And so the party did.
After a brief discussion, by a vote of 56 to 4 the central committee voted to enforce its rules against the three. They will receive no financial support from the party, any district committee or Republican club. Babcock said the party will certainly look to find challengers for the three during the next election cycle in two years.
LeDoux, Seaton, and Stutes make up what is left of the Musk Ox Coalition (MOC), which last year sided with Democrats on important fiscal issues.