By the numbers: Who really runs the Senate?


Committee assignments in the Alaska Senate were released Tuesday, after the Alaska Legislature gaveled in for the first time this year, and Democrats should be happy.

In half of the committees, Democrats outnumber Republicans, 3-2, even though Alaskans voted in a majority of Republicans in the Senate. The Senate is comprised of 11 Republicans and 9 Democrats, yet Democrats outnumber Republicans on five of the 10 committees, as three Republicans have been excommunicated from the bipartisan caucus, which is chaired by Republican Senate President Gary Stevens.

Here’s how the committee assignments shaped up, as assigned by the Committee on Committees, in the document signed by Sen. President Gary Stevens, Sen. Cathy Giessel, Sen. Click Bishop — all Republicans, and Sen. Lyman Hoffman and Sen. Bill Wielechowski — both Democrats:

Community and Regional Affairs: Democrats-3, Republicans-2

  • Dunbar, Olson, Gray-Jackson, Bjorkman, Giessel

Education: Democrats-3, Republicans-2

  • Tobin, Stevens, Bjorkman, Kiehl, Gray-Jackson

Finance: Democrats-3, Republicans-4

  • Stedman, Hoffman, Olson, Bishop, Merrick, Kiehl, Wilson

Health and Social Services: Democrats-2, Republicans-3

  • Wilson, Kaufman, Tobin, Dunbar, Giessel

Judiciary: Democrats-3, Republicans-2

  • Claman, Kiehl, Kaufman, Giessel, Olson

Labor and Commerce: Democrats-2, Republicans-3

  • Bjorkman, Bishop, Gray-Jackson, Merrick, Dunbar

Resources: Democrats-4, Republicans-3

  • Bishop, Giessel, Wielechowski, Kawasaki, Kaufman, Dunbar, Claman

Rules: Democrats-1, Republicans-4

  • Wielechowski, Stedman, Stevens, Giessel, Hoffman

State Affairs: Democrats-3, Republicans-2

  • Kawasaki, Claman, Bjorkman, Wielechowski, Merrick

Transportation: Democrats-2, Republicans-3

  • Kaufman, Wilson, Tobin, Kiehl, Myers

Some senators received many committee assignments:

Sen. Cathy Giessel: 5 committees

Sen. James Kaufman: 4 committees

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: 4 committees

Sen. Forrest Dunbar: 4 committees

Others received no committees:

Sen. Mike Shower and Sen. Shelley Hughes, both Republican.


    • Mary please your list is longer you need to and Steadman, Stevens & Bjorkman That makes 5, more will show their true colors in short order! Count the vote / scorecard as things get rolling along!

    • The three honest Republicans now composing a silent minority were not allowed, nor were they invited, to join the co-called coalition. So if they are irrelevant it was not by choice. That is democracy as practiced today in Alaska. It will lead to no good. Shoot straight and speak the truth.

    • Bake Shop, these three are united. In this country it used to be that differing opinions were sought out and everyone had a voice. These days it is “agree with us or be silenced”. There is no good government to be had with this circular/insular thinking. There is however a sliver lining in my opinion. Bills and veto-over rides need votes and as in years past when liberals were in the minority, these three can hold out for concessions to at least have their constituents heard. I do believe that they did not bring back the “binding caucus”

  1. Well, surprise, surprise! Cathy Giessel is back in charge. She reserved for herself the all-important Judicial and Rules committees. She is on 5 committees, the most of any senator. If you look at the pictures,she is almost always the center person, not Senator Stevens. So we know who will be running things. Right? Buckle down, it is going to be a wild ride.

  2. My letter sent today to my state senator, Kelly Merrick:
    Dear State Senator Merrick,
    I am contacting you here to express my utter disgust and contempt for the inexplicable and despicable surrender of you and your other seven (so-called) Republican state senators in forming a working majority with the Democrats in the Alaska Senate, instead of working with your other three excluded Republican colleagues. This is particularly infuriating, as the Republicans in the state senate ALREADY had a majority, which you needlessly and insultingly threw away in favor of joining with the radical leftists instead.
    As far as I’m concerned, by having so spinelessly and duplicitously joined with far-left Democrats such as Scott Kawasaki and Forrest Dunbar you have slapped the faces of all those who voted for you, and proven yourself to be a traitor to them. As such, you will NEVER receive another vote from me.
    You should be ashamed of yourself. But I guess unprincipled political opportunists and sociopaths do not feel shame.
    I just hope we never meet in public, or you WILL receive the proper and full condemnation, face to face, that you deserve.
    With NO regards, nor respect,

  3. A few years of this and the state will certainly be broke. No PFD, income and other taxes similar to California. What a shame, but it was bound to happen. Money attracts the wrong sorts, and the people fell for it. All that remains is to sit back and watch the show. At the end, be prepared to stand up and grasp your knees. It will make it easier for them to remove your wallet.

  4. The state is doomed with people like Geissel, Dunbar, Bjorkman doesn’t matter what party they belong to they are all one and the same.We must get rid of this Affirmative action voting.AKA Rank choice…


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