Republicans, Democrats could split House control 50-50 - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, October 20, 2019
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Republicans, Democrats could split House control 50-50

(3-minute read) EMERGING PLAN WOULD MEAN CO-SPEAKERS, CO-CHAIRS

It’s been three weeks since the Legislature gaveled in, but still there’s no leadership established in the House.

Now, it appears that a small group of appointed legislators have over the past week crafted a 50-50 power-sharing plan between Democrats and Republicans. Today could be the day.

It’s a plan the Democrats may like very much, since they only have 17 elected members (including Daniel Ortiz of Ketchikan, who identifies as a nonpartisan), and the Republicans have 23.

That split exists in Alaska’s House because three Republicans — Louise Stutes, Gabrielle LeDoux, and Gary Knopp — won’t caucus with their fellow Republicans.

The fragile Republican majority fell apart in December, when Knopp decided to walk out on Republicans. He wants a 50-50 power-sharing split.

Knopp of Kenai has been working for weeks to get Democrat Bryce Edgmon back as Speaker.

Now, Knopp appears to be shifting again as he walks back and forth between ends of the hallways, serving as the power broker. Dave Talerico is once again emerging as a possible co-speaker, if he accepts the role.

A group of eight legislators will today present the 50-50 power-sharing agreement to their respective sides for a vote.

Four of the eight are rookies, never having served in the Legislature before.

The group is composed of Reps. Lance Pruitt, George Rauscher, Josh Revak, and Bart LeBon on the Republican side, and Jonathan Kreiss Tompkins, Daniel Ortiz, Andi Story, and Grier Hopkins for the Democrats.

They’re calling it the Montana Plan, based on what the Big Sky State and others have done at times, when they had a 50-50 split.

What is being talked about would involve co-Speakers, co-chairs for committees, and 50-50 splits on committee memberships, which give Democrats an advantage they were not able to achieve at the ballot box last fall.

The group has even talked about how there may need to be decisions made by a coin toss.

It’s a plan that will likely disenfranchise the more conservative members of the House, which represent the growing Mat-Su Valley, in favor of the Democrat strongholds of Anchorage and Juneau.

The group hopes to have its model firmed up before Gov. Michael Dunleavy releases his budget amendments on Feb. 13.

For Knopp, that appears to be a priority. His overarching goals are to block Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s legislation and to shut out the Mat-Su Valley delegates. He has already said on the record he is afraid of some of Dunleavy’s platform, and he refuses to join a Republican caucus that includes Valley member David Eastman.

What is George Rauscher, a conservative legislator in his second term, who hails from the state’s most conservative district, doing in that group? He’s an unlikely fit.

Rauscher was recruited as a substitute member when last weekend there were not enough Rs in Juneau to participate. Rauscher appears to be a “no” vote on this power-sharing plan, however. He said he’s keeping an eye on things but has been leery of the current direction.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • “It’s a plan that will likely disenfranchise the more conservative members of the House…”
    .
    Madam Editor, you nailed it.
    .
    Now through the miracle of “power-sharing”, the party of Ronald Reagan unites with the party of Hillary Clinton and the party of Alaska lobbyists to prevent Governor Dunleavy from messing around in our very own Deep State’s business.
    .
    Apparently there’s not a damned thing productive Alaskans can do about it.

  • Business run by committee never works. Whom is in charge? Governing by coin flip? Why does anyone think this will work?

  • This is government at its worst in that the will of the voters in electing a majority of Republicans will be thwarted and destroyed by this coalition. Electing turncoats argues for limiting the power of representative government and converting to pure democracy as much as possible. Chickens that cross the road could make poor eating.

  • Mr. Knopp will eventually pay for his need for attention, having become a turncoat. In the end he will lose a lot, especially here on the Kenai Peninsula. Maybe he plans on moving somewhere else?

  • Well, Mr. Knopp and friends can look forward to, once again, having the SCC majority call for invocation of the rules ending support of the Republican Party to publicly chastise them again.

  • The Governor should start talking to people. The lack of organization in the House will make enacting any kind of budget even more difficult, erode the effective delivery of services, endanger the State’s credit and potentially result in the failure to confirm the Governor’s appointees. The biggest potential loser in all of this is the new Governor. Time to demonstrate some leadership, forge some alliances and move forward.

  • Reps. Lance Pruitt, George Rauscher, Josh Revak, and Bart LeBon? WHAT?? I want to know what ANY of those guys are doing in that group! Talking about what? The only thing these guys should be talking about is how they can get rid of Knopp. Josh? Really? If YOU are going to flip, I am super disappointed in you and I am questioning everything I thought was pure and real. Laddie, grab Josh by the ear and take him paragliding and have a chat with him. And LeBon? One felon vote and all that.BS you went through?…..and you are/could be a flipper? Please someone….tell me I am reading this wrong!!! Pruitt and Raucher…come on man… what in the heck is the matter with you. You should know better. Stand your ground. Better yet, gavel out and go home. Then the locals can take care of Knopp.

  • Have to agree with Garnet. All of this work to bring Bart LeBon onboard with Republicans and he wants to join Grier Hopkins? To what end, Bart? That guy is a commie nutcase. Did you read his political positions? An old snowflake without any real life experiences on his own. Only what his daddy, mommy, and uncle could for him.
    To you Republicans: QUIT CAPITULATING. Democrats are desperate. You are aiding and abetting them. Stick together with your fellow Republicans or get out of politics. That simple.

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