Former Sen. Cathy Giessel, who did not survive her last election, says that Reps. Kelly Merrick and Louise Stutes demonstrated leadership in the past 10 days in resolving divisions in the House.
“The harsh polarization that has infected our policy-making entities in our city, state and nation is paralyzing producing movement forward,” Giessel wrote in her new newsletter, which is a personal newsletter that goes out to a select list of Alaskans.
Giessel lost her election primarily because she came out in harsh opposition to the governor, and was collaborating more closely with Democrats than with Republicans. Her District N voters chose Roger Holland instead in last year’s Republican primary.
“I appreciate the courage these two women have demonstrated in reaching across ‘party’ lines to bring folks together. I understand the challenge they face in doing this hard word … and the challenge they face in criticism of their collaboration,” Giessel wrote.
After suddenly joining the Democrat-led caucus, Rep. Merrick slipped out the side door of the House Chambers and scurried to a car with her handler, Rep. Zack Fields escorting her. She headed for the airport, refused to take calls from her District 14 constituents and refused to return text messages from her former allies.
Stutes has caucused with the Democrats for several years and is only a nominal Republican. She became House Speaker of a caucus of 20, which now includes Republican Merrick.
The Democrat caucus is a binding caucus, which means all members must vote on the budget and procedural votes together.
Merrick also refused to attend a meeting called by her district last week. The district has now issued a censure of her for ditching the Republican caucus. The district has since called for a town hall meeting next week in Eagle River with Rep. Merrick, Rep. Ken McCarty, and Sen. Lora Reinbold.