Word was all over the Alaska Capitol this week that the Soldotna Rep. Justin Ruffridge, a Republican who just took the oath of office, had made a deal with the Democrats to install him as Speaker Pro Tem. In fact, that rumor appears to be in the “correct” category.
No sooner had the Alaska House of Representatives been gaveled into order by Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom, than hardline Democrat Rep. Andy Josephson of Anchorage nominated Ruffridge for the temporary position. There was an immediate at-ease.
In the end, on the nomination of Rep. Laddie Shaw of Anchorage, Rep. Josiah Patkotak won the election for speaker pro tem, 40-0, with even the ever-contrary Rep. David Eastman voting in favor of Patkotak. The Ruffridge nomination never even went to a vote — it was dead on arrival with Republicans.
Patkotak, of Utqiagvik, thanked God, and then thanked the lieutenant governor. “I am humbled and appreciate the support of you electing me to be temporary presiding officer,” he said. The House Democrats, Republicans, and no-party members must now haggle over who has the votes to become the permanent speaker for the next two years.
The House adjourned to 10 am on Wednesday.