By CRAIG E. CAMPBELL
What is it with our state elected officials? We go to the polls to select those who will represent us in Juneau and before the game gets started, we witness backroom political shenanigans and power plays that are not helpful in moving our state forward at a time when we really need strong conservative leadership.
Case in point…Rep. Laddie Shaw. I have known Laddie Shaw for over 20 years, long before he was an elected official. Laddie is a remarkable Alaskan, who has served his state and nation with the highest degree of honor and dedication.
Laddie served 24 years in the military. He was a U.S. Navy SEAL. A Navy SEAL is not your average enlistee. To become a SEAL, a recruit endures the most challenging physical and mental testing imaginable. This guy is tough.
His dedication to our nation is reflected by his two tours in Vietnam during a period when America was being torn apart over our involvement in that war. I don’t know if Laddie supported or disapproved of the United States engagement in Vietnam. What I do know is that Laddie understood the role he served as a member of the United States military. He did his duty, honorably. That dedication continues today with his commitment to the Vietnam Veterans of America and the UDL/SEAL Association.
Laddie has an extensive history in public service. He was an Instructor at the Alaska State Trooper Academy, was Director of the State Standards Council, and served four years as the State Director for Veterans Affairs.
First elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 2018, serving District 26, he was re-elected this past November with no primary or general election opponent. That is a mark of how much the people of his district respect his leadership in Juneau.
So, here’s my confusion. With this phenomenal track record, why was Laddie rejected by the Senate leadership to fill the senate seat vacated by the untimely death of Chris Birch? Laddie was exceptionally qualified and was a friend of Chris’s. He was recommended to fill the vacancy by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Did Senate President Cathy Giessel and five others really block Laddie because they didn’t like his position in regards to the Permanent Fund, or maybe because he was a Dunleavy nominee? So, they really did have a litmus test. Disgusting.
Don’t get me wrong, Josh Revak was a good choice for Senate. I have always supported Josh in his political career, but the question still comes back to why the Senate Majority first rejected a distinguished candidate like Laddie Shaw.
Today we learned that Laddie was once again rebuffed by his peers. At a time when the Alaska House of Representatives is struggling to select a Speaker and establish a majority, they rejected Laddie as interim Speaker Pro Tem.
The responsibilities of the Speaker Pro Tem are to fill the role of the presiding officer in the absence of a Speaker of the House. It’s not like they were putting him in as the next Speaker. Heaven forbid they have their act together enough to take even baby steps.
But there is more to this story.
Last week they rejected Representative Bart LeBon from Fairbanks, and this week they reject Laddie Shaw. With Republicans holding 21 of the 40 seats in the House, my math tells me it should be a no-brainer to elect either Bart or Laddie into the Pro Tem position.
Awe, Alaskan politics. Easy math doesn’t work here. It only took one Republican to join with the other 19 Democrats and undeclareds to block even the interim, temporary Speaker Pro Tem position from being filled by a Republican. One Republican embraced the Democrats to stop Republicans from forming a majority, or even from simply selecting a Speaker Pro Tem to allow the House to conduct routine business.
So here we are, two weeks into session and the House remains a house divided. No leadership to organize committees. No committees to hear legislation and review budgets. And no way to accomplish the people’s business.
What’s up with this group? Didn’t they learn anything from the past two years failures of the bi-partisan coalition that resulted from Democrat/Independent Bryce Edgmon’s leadership? Apparently not.
Alaskans, take notice of how at least one elected official is posturing for personal gain and power within the House instead of doing the right thing and immediately organizing as the 21 Republican majority we sent to Juneau to fix the incredible fiscal issues facing our state right now.
So back to my point. Laddie Shaw is an incredible individual with impeccable integrity and honesty. He is a strong leader with exemplary credentials who would do an outstanding job serving as the House Speaker Pro Tem. It’s just so disheartening to see good people not supported at a time when Alaska is in dire need of leadership.
Keep your chin up, Laddie. Alaskans know you. We know your past service. We appreciate your dedication to public service. We understand your commitment to supporting our constitutional government, the provisions of law, and fiscal responsibility. We will always have your back. Thank you for everything you do for this state and our nation.
Finally, thank you to the Republicans that remained together and supported both Bart and Laddie. Maybe it’s time to play the Democrat game and bring a couple of the more moderate Democrats over to our side to form up a Republican lead bi-partisan majority. Just a suggestion. The clock is ticking.
Craig E. Campbell served on the Anchorage Assembly between 1986 and 1995 and later as Alaska’s Tenth Lieutenant Governor. He was the previous Chief Executive Officer and President for Alaska Aerospace Corporation. He retired from the Alaska National Guard as Lieutenant General (AKNG) and holds the concurrent retired Federal rank of Major General (USAF).