WILL REPUBLICANS LET HER BACK IN?
[Editor’s note: Rep. Tammie Wilson is back as House Finance co-chair as of 9 am on Wednesday morning. Observers in the Capitol say she made up with the Democratic leadership and she is back in the chair in House Finance.] Three independent sources confirmed Tuesday that Rep. Tammie Wilson, a North Pole Republican, has left the Democrat-led caucus that she joined earlier this year, when they offered her the plum position of co-chair of House Finance. But it’s unclear if her differences with the caucus led her to walk out on her own accord, or if she was pushed to the side.
Speaker Bryce Edgmon is said to be trying to coax her out of her office at this hour. Earlier she was packing boxes, evidently preparing to move out of the spacious Finance co-chair suite.
Wilson got sideways with the Democrats when she was standing in defense of the Gov. Dunleavy crime bills, which roll back the leniencies of SB-91 legislation from two years ago. Rep. Matt Claman, chair of Judiciary, has been trying to kill the bills offered by the governor.
Jennifer Johnston, who was vice chair of House Finance, becomes co-chair with Neal Foster. She is from South Anchorage.
So now the question becomes: Where are Bart LeBon and Steve Thompson, the other Fairbanks Republicans who joined the Democrat-led caucus? Will they stay or will they go? And who will be the new person on Finance to take Wilson’s place?
As far as the Democrats go, they haven’t wanted Wilson to serve on the budget conference committee because she is far too conservative for their tastes. She and Rep. Cathy Tilton could negotiate down the larger budget that the House has offered.
And now that the House budget has passed, the Democrats don’t need Wilson.
At this point, Wilson appears to be a caucus of one. Check back, this a developing story.