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Tuesday, May 21, 2019
HomePolitics and PolicyTrouble for Knopp: Two opponents, a recall, possible party sanctions

Trouble for Knopp: Two opponents, a recall, possible party sanctions

Many conservatives around Alaska lay the blame for the Legislature’s failure to perform squarely at the feet of Rep. Gary Knopp, a Republican from Kenai District 30.

Knopp this year followed his heart and withdrew from the then-Republican House Majority, and over weeks helped carve out a large Majority led by Democrats, with seven other Republicans like him.

He had been leaning toward Democrats for a long time when he led a stalemate that prevented the House from organizing for 30 days at the beginning of the session.

Due to that stalemate, the House has not been able to finish its work and the entire Legislature is in special session for up to 30 more days.

For 30 days in January and February, Knopp went back and forth between offices trying to put the Democrats in charge of the House, all the while earning his $50,400 a year plus $275 a day per diem ($8,200 for the month) to flip control. All the while, dining and hanging out with Rep. Louise Stutes, who had already turned against her party and was courting him to do the same.

In the end, Knopp got what he wanted with Reps. Jennifer Johnston, Chuck Kopp, Bart LeBon, Tammie Wilson, Gabrielle LeDoux, Louise Stutes, and Steve Thompson all joining under the leadership of Democrat Bryce Edgmon, who switched to “undeclared” to give these Republicans cover back home with the voters.

Back in Kenai, people were unhappy. They were openly hostile to Knopp during his town hall meeting in February.

[Read: Brutal: town hall as voters unhappy with Knopp]

Now, two people have filed to run for Knopp’s seat. Ron Gillham, who most recently challenged Sen. Peter Micciche, and former Rep. Kelly Wolf are lining up to take on Knopp, who has at times indicated he is not running again.

But with two in the race, Knopp may reconsider. An incumbent has a strong advantage when there is more than one primary challenger.

Knopp also faces a recall effort that is underway. A committee formed and registered with the Alaska Public Offices Commission to gather signatures needed to request a recall petition from Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer.

“Recall Gary Knopp” has acquired longtime political operative Christopher Kurka as its manager. The group needs to collect about 1,000 signatures initially, and if the application to the Lt. Gov. Meyer is accepted, will then need to gather about 3,000 signatures in order to hold a recall election.

That could take time, but supporters of the effort say they are pressing ahead.

Their initial application for a petition says that Knopp has done three things that broke trust with voters:

Neglect of duties: Knopp did not show up for several key votes this session as he was working behind the scenes to arrange for a Democrat-led Majority.

Incompetence: By purposefully not voting, he has demonstrated his incompetence in representing a conservative district.

Fitness for office: During a town hall meeting, Knopp admitted that he had deceived his fellow lawmakers and constituents. He acknowledged he had ethical reservations about going against his word when he said he would vote for a Republican speaker. He described his subsequent actions of voting for himself as that speaker as a “sleight of hand.” The trickery involved makes him unfit for office, the group says. On behalf of his constituents, he admitted he lied.

Knopp also faces the Alaska Republican Party, whose State Central Committee meets in Kenai on Friday and Saturday. Party Chairman Glenn Clary said that censuring Knopp is definitely on the agenda.

The State Central Committee removed all support for Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux and Rep. Louise Stutes when they caucused with the Democrats to install Democrat leadership in the House, but the party now has eight Republicans in the House who have followed LeDoux and Stutes.

These turncoat Republicans pose a problem for party unity in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Kenai.

Clary said the party needs to vastly improve its vetting system, and work toward pre-primary endorsements. To do so, he said leadership is working on getting districts more organized with more people involved through the precinct level.

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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

  • Knopp could never make it out to stud. He’s a natural DONKEY.

    • mule

  • That’s why I call Knopp a MISREPRESENTATIVE.

  • He was never on board with the Republican party platform in the first place. The party knew his position on the PFD when he ran the in 2019. He told us he was against a full PFD. Plus he is a supporter of sb91. He is a rat and a traitor to his office he holds. He should be recalled for the mess he put Alaskans through. Now we will have more gridlock in Juneau because of him. He is a coward for not showing up for key votes in Juneau. Instead he has a town hall where his constituents let him have it. Republican party needs to set the law down that they wont accept no more Rinos of there will be consequences.

    • Joseph, I have to clear two things up with your post. One, if belief in a fully funded Pfd while our economy tanks is a prerequisite to be a republican legislator more than half of the republicans would be gone. Second, as it seems clear from your remarks on SB91 no one has let you in on the secret that that bill was a republican pushed bill. Hop on akleg.gov look into who sponsored it, who cosponsored it and finally who were the yea votes when it was on the Senate floor. It just might surprise you.

    • Town of Kenai isn’t made up of exclusively GOP. Lots of Democrats were there, too.

  • A Democummunist pretending to be a member of the opposing party is a very old Progressive tactic.

  • Good news, now the people in his district need to get out there and sign the recall petition.

  • Interesting, probably right that multiple challengers probably get him re-elected. Careful about trying to hold politicians accountable for misleading statements. Unfortunately you can find them with ALL of them. As a case in point, why aren’t the legislators meeting in Wasilla. Clearly a bait and switch going on with that statement. I sure hope the red pen threat doesn’t go the same way!

  • When it comes down to a man’s honor, I can think of no worse transgression against that honor than what Gary Knopp has done to Alaska, and to his “party”

    Simply put, Knopp is a radical Democrat masquerading as Republican out to destroy our state’s new administration.

    He manipulated his district for Republican votes, then created the same environment in Alaska for Governor Mike Dunleavy as the Dems have created in Washington for president Trump.

    Where I come from, a man who does this kind of thing should never show his face again in his home town.

    He has committed the absolute worst form of political treachery. He should now face the consequences for it.

  • I would vote for the town stray dog before I’d vote for that FRAUD.
    I Loath that let’s be nice and call him a Man.
    He’s a narcissistic and a Liar.

  • Um, it’s going to take a little more horsepower than either Ron Gilliam or Kelly Wolf to knock off the incumbent.

    Seriously, you have to run someone better than Dumb and Dumber in this district in order for Knopp to consider not running.

  • Pre-primary endorsements is NOT the way to go. This leads to the Good Old Boy network prematurely embracing radical one issue (un-electable) general candidates or mediocre party stalwarts thinking it’s their “time.” Fielding good candidates and active District participation to vet candidates is the way to go.

  • Recall him AND LeBon. So many people supported his efforts to win that seat, contributed to his legal fund, and he went to Juneau and at the first opportunity, basically said, “screw you.” Seems like a good reason to get rid of someone in my book

  • The Republican SCC is meeting in Kenai now. If people want Knopp to be sanctioned under party rules you need to contact you district chairs and Party leadership NOW! Sanctioning Knopp through censure helps pave the way for the Party and District to vet, running and/or support other viable candidates; and/or the ability to support a recall and nominating effort necessary for the governor to chose and appoint someone to replace Gary Knopp. The message needs to be loud and clear.
    If you are in District 30 and want to sign the Recall Petition Application, you can find it at Ammo-Can Coffee in Soldotna, and Big Dog Customs on Poppy just off K-Beach Road.

  • Why can’t the Republican Party just say “NO” you cannot run under our flag?

    Many people vote a straight ticket.

  • So where did all the posts go? It was getting good

  • The entire house is guilty of Neglect of duties, they both sides put party before state when the took the first 30 days off by refusing to select leadership, the entire house should be recalled.

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