The more conservative members of the Senate’s Republican Majority lost some of their influence today, as Senate President Cathy Giessel and her leadership team reorganized the Senate, putting three Democrats into key committees.
The Senate went through a bruising shuffle, with conservatives being punished for either voting against the budget last year, being absent for the budget vote, or voting against overriding some of the governor’s budget vetoes.
The reorganization exercise came to a head after a several-hour negotiation, when at times the conservative Republicans were being dared to walk out of the Republican caucus altogether, or vote for their own “death sentence” on committees. They didn’t however, and won back some of the seats they were on the verge of losing.
In the end, Democrats had gained influence, while five most conservative Republicans lost positions.
The vote for the reorganization, called the “Report on Committees,” passed the Senate 13-7, with all five Democrats voting for it.
But the Republicans fractured on the vote. Less than a majority of Republicans voted for it, while most opposed the punishing of the conservatives; the vote was six Republicans in favor, and seven opposed to the reorganization.
That’s a dangerous signal for the Senate Republicans, to have the Senate Republican Majority surviving what could have been a leadership meltdown; Sen. President Giessel retained her gavel thanks to 100 percent cooperation from Senate Democrats.
Sen. Mike Shower of District E Wasilla was hit especially hard by the reorganization, being removed from five committees and one chairmanship and being added to just one committee.
Later however, at least some Democrats felt they left too much on the table and grumbled into the night about wanting a vote on Wednesday to rescind the action taken today and negotiate a better deal, now that they’ve seen the split in the Republicans.
Here are some of the highlights:
COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS
- Sen. Mia Costello was removed from the committee. Sen. Mike Shower was named to the committee, while Sen. Peter Micciche named vice chair. Sen. Click Bishop remains chair.
- Sen. John Coghill, who is Rules chair, was appointed to the committee. Sen. Shelley Hughes was named vice-chair.
- Sen. Mike Shower and Peter Micciche were both removed from the Finance Committee. The committee, which started out last year with nine members, is now the traditional seven. Without those two extra Republican seats, there are just four Republicans on the committee, and three Democrats. Republicans Natasha Von Imhof and Bert Stedman, remain co-chairs.
- Sen. Hughes removed as chair. Sen. Coghill, who is Rules Chair, named new chair. Sen. Micciche named vice chair.
LABOR AND COMMERCE
- Sen. Lora Reinbold was removed from committee. She was the chair. Sen. Click Bishop is the new chair. Sen. Josh Revak was appointed to committee. Sen. Gary Stevens was added as vice chair.
- Sen. Micciche is the new chair, (replacing the late Sen. Chris Birch, who was the chair.) Sen Reinbold was removed from the committee.
- Sen. Shower was stripped of his chairmanship. Sen. Revak is added and is the new chair. Kicked off the committee were Sen. Micciche, Sen. Reinbold. Sen. David Wilson was added.
- Sen. Shower and Sen. Hughes were kicked off the committee, and Sen Costello was added and is the new chair. Sen. Wilson is vice chair.
JOINT ARMED SERVICES
- Sen. Shower and Sen. Hughes were removed from the committee. Sen. Josh Revak and Sen. Donny Olson, a Democrat, were appointed, with Revak becoming chair.
LEGISLATIVE BUDGET AND AUDIT
- Alternate member Sen. Micciche was removed, while Democrat Sen. Bill Wielechowski was added to the committee.
- Sen. Costello was removed, and Democrat Sen. Tom Begich replaced her on the committee.