Brutal town hall as Knopp faces angry voters



Rep. Gary Knopp left Juneau on Wednesday to fly back to his Kenai district for the purpose of explaining to constituents why he broke away from the Republican majority in December, and why he thinks he made the right decision.

He was greeted with skepticism, some shouting, and a few supportive Democrats like former House member Mike Navarre, who appreciated his new alliance with the bipartisan coalition, which Knopp says gives Democrats in the House 50 percent of the power.

Mostly, the reaction to Knopp was one of profound disapproval.

Knopp started his public events with a talk show on Thursday morning, where callers were 8-to-1 against his recent decisions. On Friday morning, he was the featured speaker at the Kenai/Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and it was a polite crowd, with mainly softball questions.

Friday night, with a police officer present, he faced a crowd of about 60 at a town hall meeting. Most were angry and called out loudly that he had deceived them and that they felt he wasn’t representing them.

Before the meeting, about 10 people stood at the intersection of Tern and Sterling Highway, holding signs calling on Knopp to resign.

The town hall began with a display of anger toward him.

“He broke his trust with the public,” one man said loudly.

“Who’s side are you on?” asked one woman of Knopp.

Knopp said:

He was there to explain what he did (leave the Republican caucus) and why he did it. Key points he made were:

  • He didn’t think a caucus of 21 Republicans was viable. “The 21 members had no chance of success.”
  • On the Republican side, he said the Fairbanks, Mat-Su, Anchorage, and Kenai Republican caucuses were too far apart on the issues to have one binding caucus, one where they would vote together on the budget. The Democrat-majority caucus that he has joined is a binding caucus.
  • He admitted he had tricked his fellow Republicans when he switched his vote at the last minute after agreeing to vote for Rep. Dave Talerico, but he referred to it as a “sleight of hand” rather than an outright dishonesty when he said he would vote for the Republican nominee, and then decided that he should be that nominee.
  • What he did had nothing to do with the governor’s budget, he said. “Those are completely separate issues.”
  • There are too many freshmen in the House Republicans who don’t have any experience and the Republicans are a “very green, weak group of people, very fractured in our beliefs and our policy decisions.”
  • “My fear, when we started talking about this was we were going to get down to Juneau as an organization and simply implode and completely fall apart way late in the session.”
  • He believes that as many as four more House Republicans will join the bipartisan coalition with him and the other five who went over (Gabrielle LeDoux and Louise Stutes were already over).
  • During the question and answer part of the town hall, several episodes of shouting and interrupting broke out, including people from the Mat-Su Valley, who had driven 200 miles to attend the meeting.

In addition to supporter Mike Navarre, who was commissioner of Commerce for former Gov. Bill Walker, a handful of Democrat supporters voiced their appreciation for Knopp’s decision to join the Democrats.

(Were you at the town hall? Add your comments and impressions in the comment section below.)


  1. Wasn’t there but I watched the video of it live. As unruly as some were, I am glad Rep Knopp stuck with it and faced the crowd and answered their questions.

    Really appreciated the guy who calmly and logically pointed out to Rep Knopp that 77% of the peninsula voted for Dunleavy because he promised to fix the budget, and asked him if he would support the people by supporting Dunleavy’s plan. I also appreciated the way he followed up after Rep Knopp made excuses.

    I also really appreciated the (registered independent) guy who asked Rep Knopp to share his values and beliefs that make him think he is a republican. I appreciated the way the guy followed up afterward, pointing out he thinks like an independent not a republican. It was kind of funny how Knopp started talking about himself as ‘independent’.

    I like how people kept bringing up the topic of the dem controlled house, and how Rep Knopp made that happen, but the peninsula has a very conservative republican base and is upset that he made that happen. KUDOS to the lady who brought up that they didn’t want another Seaton, that they worked hard to get conservatives like Ben Carpenter and Sarah Vance, and that is what they expected from him too.

    I like how people calmed down eventually, but still kept his feet to the fire. I am also not surprised a recall effort is underway. Not surprised at all.

    • Thanks for the commentary Carol Carmen.
      I pulled up channel’s 11 and 2 web sites and not a word on the meeting as of this morning.
      I’m in the Matsu. Our reps have worked with many others in Anchorage and the Fairbanks regions. Have had great relations with Tammi Wilson and Lance Prutt to name two. Gary’s comments about the Matsu, Anchorage, and Kenai was a flat out lie.
      If I was a new rep, I’d take his “green and weak” very badly and would toss it back into his face as a coward and traitor! At least those new reps knew what they were getting into, had done the research and are willing to learn and support their communities. Not to mention, maybe “green” on nuances of getting a bill through but many of the “old timers” are there to help them.
      Gary has blown up all bridges, the Dems will not trust him but will use him and if any RINO’s, Koop, Johnston, Stutes, LeDoux side with him, it will be a death sentence come next election.

  2. All the Republicans in Kenai and area. GO FOR IT! He (Knopp) made a commitment to get votes and be in the legislature. That oath and signing on the line speaks for itself and he needs to step up to the plate on that commitment. If not, then boot him out!!! Throw him out!!!

  3. Knopp’s primary political ally and defender Mike Navarre? Old Navarre is a Democrat hack with nothing more on his resume than, “I’m a Democrat.” Pretty thin. So what would you expect? For Knopp to show up with defender Paul Seaton? Ha! The Republicans took care of business with Seaton and tossed his ass last November. They’ll do it again to Knopp. Just watch. And thank you, Kenai Republicans, for being civil and righteous.

    • Here we sit, together but alone, at the local Kenai coffee shop, wondering if we did the right thing for Gary, or did we seal our fates forever with Kenai Peninsula voters. Jesus Marcus Leviticus F*ckedus.

  4. Anybody explain to them that they can expect to be losing $15 million of SB57 passes? Accept they weren’t all from the Knopp’s district were they?


  5. To the district 30 folks, get down to Ammo-Can Coffee and help them out, they’re patriots. They will have “You’re Fired” signs and are heading up the recall. Put some money in the jar and get to work.

  6. One has to wonder who is so toxic in the Republican House that so many republican house members headed toward the bipartisan caucus. Perhaps those who do not yet know might be able to better guess if a few more Republicans head over to the bipartisan caucus. Perhaps then the Mat Su voters can save some fuel and a long drive if they want to confront the problem.

    I might be wrong but I suspect the problem is in their back yard, not mine.

  7. We attended & signed a recall petition which was being passed around by several people. We’re new to politics in AK but learning whats going on. But to me the clearest issue (the caucus parts are really confusing to me) was the idea that a clear majority of Kenai voters supported Gov Dunlevey’s agendas and voted for Representative Knopp believing he generally would too but that is not the case.

    There was discussion about if you elect a representative once he/she is elected they have to represent everyone on both sides of the aisle so he says he has to do that. But the thing is the majority of voters felt he would largely represent a Republican viewpoint alongside of the Gov since he was on the R ticket. But now he’s not.

    So my impression was a lack of trust, a sense of betrayal and a sense that he may have even entered the race as a trogan horse.

    A couple times during the meeting a few people focused on and became really verbal about pro life issues. A true conservative issue but it took away from the main point last night which was Rep Knopp.

    At one point somebody asked him if he would resign since a recall was being started. If I heard him right I think he said something like … I’ll wait for the recall…in other words give it your best shot but I’m not resigning.

  8. Last year, Gary Knopp, Chuck Kopp, Jennifer Johnston, Steve Thompson,, voted with the Democrats more often than their Republican colleagues. May I suggest that all of you who were surprised by this turncoat action start paying attention to whose voting for and against what?

  9. “he referred to it as a “sleight of hand” rather than an outright dishonesty”

    Oh!…well, that makes it all better. NOT……..

  10. Mr. Knopp orchestrated his “town hall meeting, “ in a cramped, poorly lit room with enough seating for 1/6th of those in attendance. He was arrogant and condescending and his explanations and responses. He made it clear by his statements he is squarely in the camp of the Democrats, and could not give good examples of what values he holds that make him a Republican.
    The recall committee has been formed and APOC paperwork filed. Jason Floyd Chairman, Blair Martin and Dylan “Shorty” Garretson Co-Chairs. Recall campaign donations welcome starting Monday 2/18/19. Recall petition available at Ammo-Can Coffee in Soldotna and Big-Dog Custom 4×4 and Auto Repair on Poppy Lane just off K-Beach In Soldotna. Contact Jason Floyd at Ammo-Can Coffee or by phone at 907-831-6003 for more info or to volunteer.

  11. This is what we know about Mr. Knopp:
    1. Low IQ person.
    2. Behavior at Jr. High level.
    3. Conduct about 16-year old.
    4. Disloyal. Unreliable.
    5. Tendency towards schizophrenia.
    6. ADD.
    7. Nervous disorder.
    8. Multiple personalities (See 5.)
    9. Dishonest.
    10. Self-centered.
    11. Unstable.

    These are a lot of negative traits in an individual. A behavioral profiler would suggest a potential criminal background.
    The good people in Kenai would be serving their fellow neighbors, whether Democrat or Republican,
    to recall this individual ASAP. No one in the Legislature will believe a word coming out of his mouth. For all intents and purposes, Knopp is spoiled and damaged goods.

    • You know, that’s an interesting point Marla. Knopp does have some criminal-like traits. I know that you practice psychiatry and deal with mentally I’ll persons.
      Makes one wonder about Gary Knopp. I’m going to support the recall, and really pray for the good people of Kenai.

  12. Read your history folks. Gary Knopp and others of his elk are the Ernst Rohm of the Brown Shirts during the 20’s and 30’s Germany. These people may live amongst us, but have no doubt, they are not our friends. They have played us like the fools we are. They declared civil war against anyone who voted for our president Donald Trump. They are in the process of nullifying the November 6 election results by any means necessary. I find it stunning why my fellow citizens are having such a difficult time understanding that these insurgents are godless, lawless destroyers of our republic, our state, and our way of life. Sit back at home and do nothing, and you will eventually get a history lesson on what our forefathers tried to warn us about. THEY ARE THE TYRANTS. If the display of arrogance at last night’s town hall was not enough to convince you what is going on, then we mind as well surrender to their satanic cult that guides the modern day democratic party, and our House. And for those among us that don’t understand what they are watching, maybe this will help you, Wake up people. Time waits for no one, and history is on the way.

  13. Thank you Larry. Like the Congresswoman from Minnesota sits right now, and PUBLICLY blames the United States of America for terroristic attacks against our country. She hates Jews and publicly makes no bones about it and tweets about it. Now, she is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee! How did we get here? Have someone that, around every corner, appears to hate everything about the USA, sitting in the seat of our Government? If she were in her motherland doing this she would be executed. God Bless the USA and God help us. And, now I’m sure I’m considered a racist, while she is considered a hero. Be careful what you wish for people.

    • How did she get there? She’s a Somali immigrant representing Minneapolis. Paid much attention to what’s gone on in Minneapolis in recent years?

  14. The way those people acted is embarrassing to the peninsula. I don’t agree with how Mr Knopp handled the situation but did agree with him on some of his other points at the breakfast. The evening crowd does not reflect well on the rest of us.

    • Aaron, I disagree with your assessment that the evening crowd did not represent, “the rest of us.”
      In my experience I have learned many business owners are reluctant to take a publicly-vocal political stand for fear of offending a customer and losing a potential sale.
      The Chamber of Commerce is filled with people who are strongly motivated by profit and market-share. The power of cronyism and profit-margin has often overpowered the principals and silenced the voices of well-meaning people who might have otherwise had a dissenting opinion to share. It”s hard to hear dissent in an echo-chamber, and I would posit folks at the chamber meeting were more inclined to neutral-civility than speaking their minds in that forum.

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