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Sunday, April 21, 2019
HomeTop NewsTough week ahead for Knopp on Kenai?

Tough week ahead for Knopp on Kenai?

REPRESENTATIVE WILL FACE HIS CONSTITUENTS FRIDAY

Back in his home district on the Kenai Peninsula, folks are talking.

For political activists in this largely Republican district, where 5,200 registered Republican voters outnumber the 1,163 registered Democrats, this has been the winter of their discontent.

This is Trump country, here in Kenai/Soldotna.

Soldotna voters went 70 percent support of Trump and Kenai totaled 66 percent in 2016. Both results are far more than the 51 percent of the vote that Trump received statewide.

District 30’s representative, Gary Knopp, has gone against the prevailing winds. He ran unopposed last year and made statements that show him at odds with Gov. Michael Dunleavy.

In November, Knopp joined the Republican caucus that formed up immediately after the election, but by December, he left the group and has since held up confirmation of House Speaker for 26 days, since the House gaveled in on Jan 15. Knopp wants a bipartisan power structure — 50-50 Democrat and Republican, about 28 strong, not the 21 fragile caucus that he left.

His reason was, he said, David Eastman, the representative from District 10, whose votes so often go contrary to his fellow Republicans. Knopp just couldn’t see himself in a caucus with Eastman. A caucus of 21 would give Eastman too much power.

So instead, Knopp became the 21st vote, and he held out. On Friday, after Republicans nominated Dave Talerico for Speaker for the third time, the Republicans came up with just 20 votes. Knopp just disappeared, rather than vote. Republicans needed him, but he just wasn’t there.

[Read: Knopp refuses to show up to vote for Speaker]

The session is now one third over and the House hasn’t gotten organized, largely because Knopp has, since December, played Democrats against Republicans, trying to squeeze a deal for himself in some sort of power organization.

In a response to a story in Must Read Alaska, he said the Republicans keep trying to pull shenanigans.

“Because the Republicans constantly are pulling their shenanigans on the house floor, the speaker pro-Tem has began the process of recessing instead of adjourning in order to stop the disruptions on the house floor,” he wrote.

Those shenanigans are House Republicans insisting on holding a vote for Speaker.

[Read: A flurry of letters between Knopp, constituents]

REPUBLICANS ARE MEETING MONDAY NIGHT TO DISCUSS KNOPP

Last week, two Republican women’s clubs in his district called on Knopp to rejoin the Republican majority, writing a joint letter to him. But Knopp says that the letters are running 10-to-1 in his favor.

Recently, it came to light that Knopp had been a registered Democrat for the majority of his adult life in Alaska, only turning Republican when he ventured into public office.

That got folks talking where they gather at Ammo Can Coffee, where the local Republican district is holding a meeting on Monday evening at 6 pm to discuss the Knopp crisis.

[Read: Knopp was a Democrat for decades]

This may be the week of Knopp’s political reckoning. On Monday night, will his district Republicans simply ask him to rejoin the majority and vote for a Republican Speaker? Or will they ask him to resign?

The answer may depend on what Knopp does on Monday in Juneau. Will he have another sick-out? Or will he put his vote for or against a Speaker on the record?

And then there are other meetings in his home district, to which he is expected to attend.

Knopp is the featured speaker at a special Kenai/Soldotna Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Friday at 8 am, where some of his fans and critics may gather to hear him explain why he has held up the House organization.

Later on Friday, he is scheduled for a town hall meeting at Kenai River Suites Area Room from 5:30-7 pm.

HERE’S KNOPP’S ESCAPE HATCH

Knopp’s timing for his trip home to the Kenai may be part luck, part planning. The stars may align for him. Here’s why:

The delay of the House organization went according to the Democrats’ plan — hold off forming a leadership caucus until the budget is released and people get weak-kneed.

By Friday, the conversation across Alaska will be remarkably different from Monday’s chatter, because the governor’s budget will be released on Wednesday. It will, Dunleavy’s office has indicated, reflect spending that is no more than the actual revenues that Alaska has: around $4.6 billion.

Liberals will gnash their teeth and even conservatives will catch their breath at the smaller government footprint. That Alaskans will receive a $2,861 Permanent Fund dividend may not be enough to salve the wound of smaller government spending.

The Dunleavy budget is predicted to be about $1.6 billion less than the $5.7 billion Gov. Walker proposed in his December budget, which was a deficit-spending plan that was $330 million higher than Walker’s budget for the current year.

Knopp will likely tell his constituents that he opposes the Dunleavy budget. He’ll tell the Chamber of Commerce and town hall attendees that he’s going to fight those cuts on their behalf.

Knopp won’t necessarily say what budget number he would support, or how he would pay for it, but he will say what he is against — Dunleavy’s balanced budget.

By Friday’s public appearances, Knopp’s months of obstructing a House organization may be eclipsed by the discussion about where to find the money for everything Alaskans want.

For a man in his shoes, a Democrat who is now a false-flag Republican facing a possible recall, Knopp will have the Dunleavy budget as a foil, allowing him to focus the lens of public opinion away from his activities in Juneau.

“You’re going to have that bloc of legislators who are going to support the governor’s agenda and a bunch of us who are not,” Knopp said in December.

He hasn’t moved from that position and he has until his Thursday night flight home to form up a caucus based on opposition to the Dunleavy budget.

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Written by

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

  • Suzanne Please post my comments to your previous column ! I have yet to respond this one thanks for your staying on top of this issue with this Rep.

  • If he thinks his troubles will go away after the release of the Governor’s budget he is sorely wrong. If I were Governor Dunleavy I would visit the Kenai and tell his constituents that he either comes back into the Republican fold or the Governor will ensure that with the Veto power he has the Kenai will be left out of the budget process.

  • Hope, but doubt, the necessary opposition research is complete and ready for use during Peoples Representative Knopp’s appearance…
    .
    Knopp ‘s value, stalling Governor Dunleavy’s agenda, may be overshadowed by political liability, attracting negative publicity to Alaska’s Democrat Party, but that scenario seems unlikely, given the success of the Great Alaska LeDoux Vote Experiment.
    .
    So, expect another dreary episode of sturm und drang, abject contrition, budgetary circumlocution, heartfelt promise to do better, while the orderly flow of money from our lobbyist-legislator team to buyers and sponsors continues uninterrupted…
    .
    and Governor Dunleavy’s agenda remains stalled.

  • Left out of what? A capital budget that will be all but none existent for the 5th year in a row.

  • Gary’s comment ““You’re going to have that bloc of legislators who are going to support the governor’s agenda and a bunch of us who are not,”

    For those that see his BA nature it’s all in lockstep with the AML’s play book NOT TO GO AGAINST THE COUNTRY CLUB OF GOVERNMENT WORKERS….This is just another extension of the 11 Unions that run this State!
    They, all of them, will fight to preserve their Kingdom!

  • A quick search online shows there are 58,617 residents of the Kenai Borough in 2017.
    That would make about 5 percent registered as Republicans.
    How many total of the overall residents voted?
    What percent are registered as undeclared, independent, green party or libertarian?
    Maybe Knopp tends to side with the “Silent Majority” who’s views are neither stated online or at a town hall meeting?
    Lastly, if 3 Republicans are against this vote for speaker of the house why does all the weight fall on Gary?…it does not seem fair and only further shows the “mob approach” of our current GOP.

    • There are 4 different legislative districts on the Kenai Peninsula. House districts represent roughly 18,000 people each, obviously this includes people who can’t vote like children…others who for whatever reason choose not to take part in our representative form of government and do not vote have made their opinion known, they don’t care. The “silent majority” you claim exists and supports Representative Knopp just isn’t there, perhaps there is a silent minority? The area he was elected to represent is right leaning and solid Republican.

      • Steve O,
        Thanks for pointing that out.
        28 percent R’s out of 18,000 makes more sense.
        I believe the state average for turnout is around 25 percent?
        So yes, you are right this district is highly Republican by state average.
        My point which has been made by Republicans like Lisa Murkowski is that once elected, a politician’s job is to support all residents in the community, regardless of party affiliation at time of election.
        I would still like to know how many in Gary’s district are registered as members of affiliation other than D & R…
        As has been discussed before many Alaskans are now registered as Undeclared, Independent, Libertarian or Green.
        Many of these “third party” voices are active in the political process and community as well.

        • MY AK Native partner and I are libertarians who actively support the budget cuts. I’m not from Kenai so have no input on Rep Knopp, but I will say that I certainly wouldn’t support any Republican or Democrat who oppose actually trying to balance a budget. Thank you Steve Stine for pointing out that there are other 3rd party voters out there, and many of those 3rd party members like myself are tired of our legislators for wasting time, like what Rep Knopp is apparently doing. If legislators can’t even organize a simple vote for Speaker, maybe all of them need to resign and let competent people who actually care about EVERY person in AK and not just those who supplied them with contributions control our future.

        • Quick point of clarity: Lisa Murkowski is not a Republican.

      • Political Parties:
        A – ALASKAN INDEPENDENCE PARTY 516
        D – ALASKA DEMOCRATIC PARTY 1163
        L – ALASKA LIBERTARIAN PARTY 252
        R – ALASKA REPUBLICAN PARTY 5270

        Political Groups:
        C – ALASKA CONSTITUTION PARTY 12
        G – GREEN PARTY OF ALASKA 36
        T – TWELVE VISIONS PARTY 0
        V – VETERANS PARTY OF ALASKA 15

        Other:
        N – NONPARTISAN (NO PARTY AFFILIATION) 2245
        U – UNDECLARED (NO PARTY DECLARED) 6570
        E – MODERATE PARTY OF ALASKA 3
        H – OWL PARTY 0
        O – PROGRESSIVE PARTY OF ALASKA 0
        P – PATRIOT’S PARTY OF ALASKA 1
        W – UCES’ CLOWNS PARTY 3

        Total 16086

        http://www.elections.alaska.gov/statistics/2019/FEB/VOTERS%20BY%20PARTY%20AND%20PRECINCT.htm#30

        If I remember correctly undeclared voters lean more conservative and nonpartisan lean more liberal.

        • We do, but we also vote for whats best, not a party. This swing voter is going to file a recall on every one of them if they get it together fast or go into 1 special sessions. Right now they are being paid to spin on the thumbs, they are the epitome of every stereotype of a state worker. 120 days is comming fast.

    • I’m not a Republican but your Math is flawed because of your opinions. That 58,000 population includes … ahem, are you paying attention? … children and other people who cannot or do not care to vote. Try another analysis: count the registered voters, please, then come back with a different percentage.

      • Robert,
        You are right.
        Steve-O pointed out that there are 4 districts on the Kenai.
        Mr. Knopp’s district has 18,000 people and it looks like 16,086 of them are registered voters.
        With 5,200 signed up as Republican, that would put it at 32 % of the registered voters and about 28 % of the entire population who identify as Republican.
        The majority around 54 % identify as either “non partisan” or “undeclared” making up a total of 8,815 of the 16,086 registered voters.

  • What is worse, a rhino in Kenai or a crimimal in East Side ? Both are hiding behimd an R flag while sleeping with the left. Gabby will skate free of her crimes and Knopp will weather the arrows of discontent.

    Afterall, smart ticks know where they can latch on and not get scratched off.

  • When you read and listen to all of Mr. Knopp’s explanations for single-handedly holding up our Alaskan legislature, they add up to nothing more than double talk and salesman style gibberish.

    Mr. Knopp is not working for those Kenai/Soldotna constituents who voted him into office. He is clearly beholden to another master (Knopp was a lifelong Democrat until recently, so we can guess who that might be)

    I know I will be joined by many other fellow Republicans of the Kenai to address this when he comes to town this week.

    It’s high time for Mr. Knopp to hear it loud and clear from the people of his district: Subverting the will of the voters and our new governor is disgraceful and unacceptable.

    Furthermore, Knopp is now inflicting great damage to the people of the entire state of Alaska, with his stubborn and selfish actions.

    Our message will be a simple one: Either get in-line, resign, or get recalled.

    It’s your choice, Mr Knopp!

  • Mis-Representative Knopp’s betrayal and misrepresentions affect all of Alaska, not just his home district on the Kenai. That’s why a large contingent of us from Anchorage and Mat-Su are carpooling down later this week to confront Knopp head-on. We will be there to back our Republican brothers and sisters in Kenai, but not one of us us afraid of Mr. Knopp and we will be voicing our anger, loud and clear. Get ready!

    • Still have room in your car pool? I bet more than just myself would love to join you.

      • Actually, Robin, we are almost to the number where we’re thinking of just renting a bus. Stay tuned.
        ps… we may call it the MRAK shuttle.

    • Sweet!! Go get ’em! He needs to be held accountable.

  • I haven’t seen the Dunleavy 2020 budget and won’t until it’s released on Wednesday, but I know that budget will be exactly aligned with what Alaskans voted for when they elected Governor Dunleavy. I will have to tell the people who represent me in the Legislature that I support a balanced budget. I support reducing the size and scope of state government to meet realistically expected revenues; recurring expenditures must meet forecast income. Many special interest groups will do anything in their power to prevent this. They and much of the media will talk of state recession coming about because of a balanced budget (only in Alaska!). The Medicaid lobby is already saying if Medicaid is cut then the state budget will go up even more, and the education lobby will say that if education is cut we will have to build more prisons; so liberals are saying that the budget can only go up and must go up no matter what. As stupid as this is and sounds, the media and the executive director of every nonprofit will be screaming like stuck pigs.

  • “His reason was, he said, David Eastman, the representative from District 10, whose votes so often go contrary to his fellow Republicans. Knopp just couldn’t see himself in a caucus with Eastman. A caucus of 21 would give Eastman too much power.”

    The hypocrite! He blames Eastman yet does even worse by assuming power over the whole House?

    Dunleavy needs to appoint him to a position where he can’t harm anyone and the district can then replace him with someone with integrity.

  • To Steve Stine: Good try Steve. We welcome your differing opinion here at MRAK, because we are inclusive and tolerant,
    even if you are an apologist for rogue Republicans like Knopp and Murkowski, who favor playing with the Democrats. You, as a solid Democrat, know that without Knopp and Murkowski, your liberal agenda is DOA. So you show up here with comments like “politicians should represent all people regardless of party affilation,” is BS. We elect Conservatives for a reason…… to repel your Liberals. We have a very different philosophy about spending, saving, and lifestyles. That’s why we have elections. We won! But with Knopp, we didn’t win because he is a traitor and misrepresented himself to his electorate. Now we have to get rid of him, just like the Democrats would get rid of one of their own traitors. And as for Princess Murkowski, she should watch the Knopp situation closely, so she gets an idea what is coming her way.

    • Johnnie Greene,
      You wrote:
      “You, as a solid Democrat, know that without Knopp and Murkowski, your liberal agenda is DOA.”
      Well, your first premise is false since I have never been a registered Democrat in my life.
      Fact is, I have supported the Republicans in Alaska for over 12 years…and I always turn out to vote.
      As for conservative values, well I share many of them as well.
      My current concern that separates me from the R’s is the push to a “loyalty” within the party and a disenfranchising of the remaining members of the community…
      Many of whom are registered as non partisan and undeclared.
      I also believe environmental concerns are not raised in the Republican party and that is why I shifted a bit to the left.
      With such a small state (in population) and so many registered as other than Republican…
      I do not understand why no bipartisanship can occur in our leadership…
      This is why I comment and choose to participate in the discussion.
      And lastly, I am glad you “welcome” my different opinion from yours as that is what cooperation should entail.

  • With ‘Party Affiliation’ comes a basic understanding of the acronym … TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More). However, this Trojan Horse from Kenai, as well as those other two clowns, ‘mistakenly’ think the acronym stands for:
    … To hell with everyone else
    … Everyone must
    … Acquiesce to
    … My way!
    Eventually, common sense will prevail and win the day. However, time is slipping by with absolutely ‘NO’ progress, all of which, will most definitely cost the State of AK wasted dollars. Currently, there’s three House Legislators responsible for this chaos.
    – Do these antics demonstrate responsible and reasonable leadership?
    – Have Alaskans asked for this type of obstructionism?
    – Given these antics, should Alaskans trust any of these three Republicans?
    RECOMMENDATION: Put your ideology aside, admit you’re wrong, ask for forgiveness, and get to work (working together alongside the Republican Party) on behalf of the people who elected you.

  • Well, Steve, you’ve been voluntarily exposed. Welcome to MRAK.

  • Gentle Readers… GENTLE READERS!!
    .
    Time Out for just a minute…
    .
    What if we’re doing exactly what the Establishment wants us to do, raising hell, preaching to the choir, lynching non-Republicans?
    .
    What if Knopp, Stutes, and the Great Alaska LeDoux Vote Experiment are simply meant to be lightning rods for voters’ wrath, sacrificial lambs so Alaska’s very own Deep State can work undisturbed on neutralizing Governor Dunleavy or getting him out of office?
    .
    What if they’re doing publicly what most of our lobbyist-legislator team wants to do, away from public view… preventing the Governor’s crowd from disrupting the orderly flow of money to buyers and sponsors?
    .
    So… instead of berating poor old Knopp, why not draw up a “Contract with Kenai”, read it on air, ask him to sign it, or if he doesn’t want to sign it, start a recall with a Hero (or Heroine) who will?
    .
    Okay, back to brawling…

    • If you are a hard core conspiracy theorist, you can throw out an endless number of suppositions as to what might be going on. The bottom line is: we have several belligerent Republican House members who dont like the way the House is being organized with Telarico and Tammie Wilson in charge. The whole issue comes down to power politics and personalities. Remember the old Lucky Strike commercials with, “I’d rather fight than switch.” Knopp is taking the inverse approach. He’ll switch rather than fight for his own party. Knopp is a deeply compromised and confused person, who’s antics are at the root of the problem. He loves the publicity and thinks he can be a hero to non-partisons. But by Friday evening of this week he’ll probably be wearing two black eyes and wished he was remembered as a fighter and not a switcher. Mr. Knopp is not destined for much of a political future. That nail was placed in his coffin at the start of the Session.

  • This “disenfranchising” the community mumbo jumbo is rediculous. Represent everyone all the time Steve? Of course you “support” everyone in your community; however, you will never, ever represent every ideology of every citizen. We have elections. Candidates run on a platform. You vote for the candidate you believe matches your ideals the best. At the point the candidate is elected you expect to receive what they indicated during the campaign. Those that voted for Knopp did so believing they would have representation in our government as he campaigned on and in line with their beliefs. Not only is he giving his voting block absolutely nothing he promised as a fraud & his entire district nothing, he is giving the entire State of Alaska nothing but stress. In any election, when my candidate loses and I’m stuck with a liberal (always in my district), I know they support me as a human (unless I was in utero) but I know they will never “represent” me. Oh hell no! And that’s ok. You deal with it. That doesn’t make me disenfranchised! I will keep voting and keep chugging along and try to make a difference where I can. But, when you get home from the store thinking you have a carton of fresh milk, open it up and it is curdled, you take it back for a fresh one. Same % but fresh and good and what it’s supposed to be with no hidden surprises inside later…..Return Knopp for a new one.

    • And if the Rep. or Sen. in my district was doing what Knopp is doing? (both libs), I assure you there would be blood in the streets. I choose to live where I live. The majority of the people in this district apparently favored 2 liberals – and historically always have. They expect the people elected to represent their liberal values. They are my Rep. and Sen. too, and I expect them to do lib stuff because they won the election.

  • Wait and see what the budget looks like. Keeping his powder dry is prudent given what we’ve seen so far. The sturm and drang here is telling, it’s almost as if we aren’t really having a budget crisis or something.

    “Tough week ahead for Knopp” is whistling past the graveyard. The guy is undoubtedly a squish, I’d still take that over a crook.

    • Laughing: if you are referring to Gabby, a crook is right. TBD on a few others.

  • Stand strong for bipartisanship, Knopp. We need leaders ready to work together to support a commonsense plan for paying for government. We are overdue in having a statewide income tax. Cuts to education and healthcare to balance our budget hurt those most in need and hurt the future of our state.

  • Political “power sharing” is an oxymoron. It doesn’t work. One side takes power as the electorate determines at the polls on election day. The other side “participates.” Election cycles change this arrangement fairly often. Democrats use the notion of power sharing to gain some control when they are not in the pure political majority. The liberal press helps Democrats through a public shaming. When the Republicans have clear political power, they have to fight the liberal press, the Democrats, AND some of their own. The Gary Knopps and the Lisa Murkowsis. These are the problems. Republicans do not know how to discipline their own. Thus, the Democrats use these fools effectively and set up themselves
    for positions which the electorate never intended. Here we are, one month into the Session, still debating “power sharing,” and the election was over three and a half months ago.

    • Well put, Judie. Look at Pelosi as an example in the US House. She uses total control, and disciplines members of her own Democrat party when they step outside the boundary. As an example in Alaska, go back to the 1980’s when Al Adams (D) Kotzebue used his position as House Finance Chair to run the budget process in the entire state legislature. There was no real power sharing, only an illusion, which Adams effectively applied by inviting a few young Republicans on the Finance Committee who “thought” they had some power, when all they really had was just a seat on that Committee. Dems outfoxed Repubs. Now, with Repubs in the majority, they don’t know how to use their power because some are
      afraid of looking mean, uncaring, and like unintelligent bullies. These tactics are used repeatedly and cycled frequently by the fake news, Liberal press.
      btw, that’s why reporters like Suzanne and her MRAK are gaining new readers and getting popular each passing day.

  • So I’ll add my 2 cents here. My wife and I live on the Kenai and we are registered non partisan. We have 8 kids and grandkids here who are faithful voters as well. I’m not sure how they are registered but they are conservative and actively support the conservative candidates. Every one of us voted for Governor Dunleavy and not one of us voted for Knopp though he was on our ballots. Half of us will be able to attend the town hall Friday and we look forward to the contingent traveling from Anchorage and Mat Su. Heck, Judy this is Monday … bet you could fill at least 2 buses by Friday. Will look forward to seeing you.