Alaska House appears at impasse for organizing, as 20-20 split looks like it did three years ago

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A memo from the Alaska House Coalition makes it clear that Rep. Louise Stutes, now the Alaska House Speaker, will stay with the bipartisan, Democrat-dominated caucus.

So will Reps. Bryce Edgmon and Neal Foster, both of Western Alaska.

“Our coalition has proven its unwavering support for essential services, protecting our Permanent Fund and savings accounts, and providing sustainable dividends,” said Stutes, a Republican of Kodiak. “Alaskans expect us to be ready to work in January and to get the job done on time. We look forward to working across the aisle with our colleagues in the House and Senate, as well as with the administration on bi-partisan solutions to make that happen.”

“From school closures to record outmigration and a declining economy, the challenges facing our state are monumental, ” said Rep. Bryce Edgmon, who switched a few years ago from Democrat to being without a party. “That’s why I’m proud to stand with a coalition who will work hard to put partisan differences aside on behalf of the best interests of Alaskans across the state.”

Rep. Neal Foster, a Nome Democrat, said, “I’m committed to working with my colleagues in the Alaska House Coalition to ensure these priorities are realized this next session.” He was speaking about public safety, and power cost equalization for rural Alaska communities.

That means there is a nearly impossible path for Republicans in the House to form a majority, which would take 21. Indeed, there are 21 elected Republicans, but Stutes is one of them, and Rep. David Eastman of Wasilla is the other. Eastman cannot be seated as a legislator until a judge decides that he is not a threat to democracy. He has been accused of violating the “disloyalty clause” of the Alaska Constitution due to his membership in a patriot group that was associated with the Jan. 6, 2021 disruption at the U.S. Capitol. His case will be heard this month in the Palmer courthouse.

The  Democrats have 13 seats and no-party candidates have six, including Bryce Edgmon, Dillingham; Daniel Ortiz, Ketchikan; Cal Schrage, Anchorage; Josiah Patkotak, Utqiagvik; Alyse Galvin, Anchorage; and Rebecca Himschoot, Sitka.

All of the no-party candidates are likely to join the Democrats, giving the House coalition 19 members. With Rep. Stutes, that makes 20, creating a 20-20 split with Republicans, a similar situation that happened in 2019. Then, it took the House until mid-February to get a majority coalition, and in doing so, Republicans who stuck with their party were sidelined into minority status. The majority was 21 to 18, with Edgmon as speaker.

There may be Republicans willing to go over to the Democrat-controlled bipartisan coalition, and some have already signaled they are willing to hear an offer. But the bipartisan coalition won’t need but a couple of them, and thus will pick the most malleable, least drama-prone Republicans to woo with choice assignments.

The Senate, although it has a majority of elected Republicans, organized as a Democrat-led majority, with Sen. Gary Stevens, a Kodiak Republican, as Senate President. The Senate majority has all but three senators in it — Sens. Shelley Hughes, Mike Shower, and Robb Myers were left out in the cold, too small of a group to even have acknowledged minority status.

The statement released by the Alaska House Coalition on Monday was the first official statement from the group on any topic since mid-September.

31 COMMENTS

  1. Who didn’t see this coming.
    David Eastman deserves to be seated. He won, fair and square.

    The constituents in the House District he ran in have made their choice with full knowledge of his positions and acts.

    Representative Eastman’s membership in The Oath Keeper organization, in and of itself, should not disqualify him from serving in the Alaska Legislature. There is no legitimate reason for not seating the people’s choice according to the Alaska Constitution. The constituents who elected him should get what they wanted, not what a judge decides in a deal like the one currently in court. Absent a clear and present danger or actual acts demonstrating actual insurrection, Representative Eastman should be sworn into office again.

    The real issue with the Republican Party in Alaska, at least in general terms, is a lack of sensible recruitment of serious candidates with some degree of moderation. The revved up hot-heads who appeal to a mad-as-hell base unwilling to compromise or engage in discussion who championed extreme candidates mostly got smoked. Same thing happened to some uncompromising hot-heads who ran as extreme Democrats this cycle too.
    The majority of the public want adults elected who are willing to listen and act in a coordinated manner with other legislators to get the job done. There is nothing preventing the Republicans in the House from putting together a coalition that includes 4 or 5 moderate Democrats and the unaligned members of the House other than inability to compromise and being stuck deeply in partisan rhetoric. Oh well ………………….

    • Joe, Louise Stutes is from whom Lisa Murky learned how to use the middle to gain more power… and she is the compromiser in chief who is destroying our majority. Don’t expect this to turn out well. Understanding how power structure in our government works is the key to influence and effectiveness as a legislator. Much as I hate the result, Louise is playing it smart.

    • “…….The real issue with the Republican Party in Alaska, at least in general terms, is a lack of sensible recruitment of serious candidates with some degree of moderation………”
      And that statement doesn’t apply to the Demonrat Party even more?

    • Agreed, Joe. Eastman won his seat. There is no law that he can’t join a group like Oath Keepers, so long as he didn’t join in criminal activity. Those other politicians who don’t care for Eastman are either too feckless to take a stand, or they are jealous of the attention Eastman can pull in.

      • Eastman’s got balls. Most of the women legislators are leftist LGBTQ huggers. And most of the men in the legislature are either LGBTQ, or plain old sissies.

    • Joe, Good comment. I agree it’s past time for the R’s to figure this out and like Reagan take the “half a loaf” today approach.

  2. Corruption of the soul isn’t easy to fix ! The electorate of Alaska may have reached its critical mass of disappointment ,at least on a conservative ideals that grow the private sector.

    What can be done in a shrinking economy is just survival ,ever watchful of a few ,very few opportunities of the well healed large corporation shedding crumbs !

    Alaska’s vast resources wealth will stay tied up in political strife without willing participants because our legislature fines it more self appeasing to feed the less deserving ,Knocking at the handout trough of non producing jobs, like studies & the like!

    Not where Alaska should be after 55 years of struggling the ups & downs of a roller-coaster past.

    The group elected now have not got a clue how to fix anything! POWER is their righteous endeavor!

  3. “…….From school closures to record outmigration and a declining economy, the challenges facing our state are monumental…….”
    Outmigration? Huh? That ain’t happening in my neck of what used to be woods. Maybe people are leaving his district because he sucks? As far as I’m concerned, an outmigration is the best thing that can possibly happen.

  4. The bipartisan coalition … “will pick … the least drama-prone Republicans”. Certainly true. The question is, can the remaining members accomplish anything, or will they just obstruct the majority? Plenty of blog and MSM fodder coming our way soon.

  5. Well whoever sells their principle for a bowl of stew don’t condemn them. Don’t burn the possiblity having a bridge and a mole using a weak member. But! This year the 20 republicans sent appear to be a strong and principled herd, and merrick and rasmussen aren’t there, the bait would have to be more than a bowl of stew that Esau, merrick, stutes and rasmussen took. How the R base mocks those 4 for their satisfaction over a bowl of soup, which they didn’t even have much power to do what they wanted. R members should know they’d be laughed at, scorned, and mocked by the R base for their weakness cause the public aren’t christian maybe not the leader who don’t know the book of daniel a principled man who was an administrator and advisor to pagan kings.

    • Not sure that God is to impressed with us when he gave us the brains to organize for a common good and we can’t even get that done.

    • Gary Knopp single-handidly held up the entire legislative session for about a month. He thought it was funny. And then he tried to become House Speaker. Another RINO trying to showboat with his Democrat masters. It didn’t work out well for Gary. He killed six people while flying an illegally registered plane. A complete idiot. Ask his widow, who had to face the families of the dead……not to mention being financially liable for all of those wrongful deaths.

  6. Is this a REPRESENTATION OF real Alaska ? really ? 2/3rd republican and yet the dummy dems keep theiving ! Listening to Stutes is like listening to a rock polishing machine and watching paint dry at the same time. Oh goody still so many PFD theives in there. WHY doesnt anyone remember that Jan 6th thing had millions of people at it from all over the world, there were picnics, marching bands, parades, foreign visitors selling things, music presentations, recitations of history, even 1000 chinese protesters warning us that the CCP is serious…. but no, we must believe it was a planned dangerous ERECTION that Pelosi just happened to be in charge of security at.

    • Marco…….you just described the motto for the new Legislative Session. One that all the voters can make fun of and repeat over and over. Just don’t say it too quickly, so as not to be misconstrued. Say it slow….. for true meaning and intent:
      .
      Binding Caucus …Suckers

    • God made that decision. Maybe God will make some more decisions and we will have an honest Republican majority after all.

  7. Picture it, the seasoned legislator taking the freshman under his wing:

    “Congratulations, you just got elected for your first time as a Republican from a conservative part of the state. Now let me help you negotiate the terms of your surrender to the caucus. You will want to surrender with dignity, and in a way that doesn’t rile up conservative voters toooo much, not easily done, which is why I’m here to help—but surrender you shall…it’s your only hope of surviving the rest of your term and keeping the door open to getting reelected. It’s the way things are done in this state.

    It’s like getting jumped into a gang.

    And you thought you left behind your days of hazing and being hazed back in college….oh well.

    Your new master will be beneficent…..just so long as you are loyal to the gang over anything and anyone else. Think of the caucus as something like a jealous spouse. The caucus comes first. Always. It won’t ask you for a whole lot….just that it always has your loyalty, and that you look out for the political interests of the other members of the gang (I mean caucus). And if you do, your time in Juneau will go swimmingly. But if you don’t, you and the voters in your district will be kicked to the curb and cancelled with all the passion and fury of a jilted lover.

    Don’t think of it as corruption. Just think of it as a new and better way of doing business. Welcome to Juneau!”

  8. And the real reason for the freezing out of Eastman rears its ugly head.

    Where was the AK GOP raising holy hell about this, Campbell? Why aren’t the seated members refusing to participate in anything until Eastman is seated? How do you lame us for this one?

  9. And right out of the gate the new legislature is proving to be dysfunctional! May as well start burning time now so they can all get on the extra per diem gravy train with Special Sessions!

    • Yep, could see this one coming with blinders on. Talk about a “long as I get mine” mentality. Last I heard a person in the USSA has/had the right of peaceful assembly which can be said to mean membership in whatever group so long as you don’t espouse or participate in criminal activity (as is currently written). So on the one hand Eastman should already be seated by the vote of the people (THEN) have his day in court. One the other hand, the House is tacitly (they think) setting up another per diem grab cuz after all, when the economy is in trouble, isn’t it best to sit back and blame someone else?

      On a totally unrelated note.. if we have an affordable housing crisis in this state which I believe we do, I’m just curious how many local and state elected officials own short term vacation rentals and won’t lease them to locals? Probably worded that wrong but are they part of the problem or the solution? I believe a person tho has the right to do what the want with their property am just saying don’t talk out both sides ya mouth.

  10. Honestly I could see the guy from Utqiavik joining the republicans, although it’s just as possible that the new Ruffridge guy from Soldotna folds and goes over to the dems.

  11. I’d rather see the impasse than Democrat control. Truly ashamed of the Republicans who chose to caucus with the socialists. The Ds do not jump ship to join Rs. There is a lesson here. Again: Never underestimate the ability of Alaska Republicans to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  12. The very best sort of legislative body is the kind that cannot accomplish anything.

    It sounds to me as though it is shaping up to be an epic year.

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