Kenai Republican House member Gary Knopp has left the Republican caucus. He has not exactly joined the Democrats, but is holding out for a new leadership structure in the House.
The word of his decision has spread quickly through political circles.
Knopp represents a very conservative part of Alaska, District 30. It’s so conservative, that Rep. Knopp ran unopposed.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy won 5,383 votes in this district, compared to Mark Begich, who got 2,169 votes, and Bill Walker, who got 134.
Ballot Measure 1, the Stand for Salmon initiative, failed in this district 5,805-1,883.
Weeks ago, Knopp stood as part of the caucus but had demands. The group didn’t go along with them, so he has stepped out, possibly looking to accept the best offer.
As a man without a caucus, Knopp leaves the House as a 20-20 split between Republicans and Democrats (plus two Republicans who joined with Democrats).
Without one group being able to prevail and own the Speaker’s gavel, the lieutenant governor would have to preside or appoint a Speaker pro tem until such a time as a viable caucus emerges.
The Legislature convenes on Jan. 15, 2019.