THE BIZARRE QUESTION FROM SENATE PRESIDENT
Senate President Cathy Giessel asked Rep. Laddie Shaw, a two-tour Vietnam veteran and retired Navy SEAL, if he looks down on people who haven’t served in the military.
Shaw was being interviewed by the 12-member Senate Republican Majority for Senate Seat M, after being named to the seat by Gov. Michael Dunleavy. The interview took place in a private meeting in the Legislative Information Office in Anchorage.
Another senator asked Shaw if the governor called a special session for Fairbanks, but the Senate President wanted it to be in Juneau, where would Shaw go — Fairbanks or Juneau? Shaw answered that he would follow the law.
Those were among several pointed questions Shaw answered during his 45-minute interview with the Senate Majority today. The majority of the questions were about his views on the Permanent Fund dividend.
The questions indicated pretty clearly how each senator intended to vote.
In the end, six senators voted to not confirm Shaw, and six voted to confirm him, but that split was not enough to carry him over the line.
The votes are secret but Must Read Alaska has counted the votes against Shaw: Senators Giessel, John Coghill, Gary Stevens, Bert Stedman, Click Bishop, and Natasha Von Imhof.
Voting for him were Senators Mia Costello, David Wilson, Peter Micciche, Mike Shower, Lora Reinbold, and Shelley Hughes.
Senate Republicans were instructed by their leaders to not speak to the press and to not reveal the vote because it could split up the Republicans. All of the senators left the building promptly after the decision came down, and a press release was issued a few minutes later.
But House Republicans were under no such rule. They said the vote is an insult to District 26 Republicans who offered Shaw’s name for the seat, and is an insult to the process.
“Our entire caucus is absolutely shocked that Republican leadership in the Senate refused to confirm Rep. Shaw to fill the open seat,” said Rep. Lance Pruitt, House Minority Leader.
“If Alaskans want to understand why Juneau is so dysfunctional, they need to look no further than the actions of the Senate Republican leadership today in rejecting a decorated war veteran, respected law enforcement leader, and former deputy commissioner — all because he told them he could think for himself and do what’s best for his district,” he said.
“This is absolutely unbelievable,” added Rep. Josh Revak, who also serves the residents of District M.
“If they’re not looking for a pragmatic, sitting House Representative, former Navy SEAL, former Director of State Veterans Affairs — a guy who dedicated a good portion of his life to training State Troopers — well then, I’m not sure who the hell they’re looking for.”
“We join thousands of other Alaskans in thanking Rep. Shaw for being willing to step up and serve in this seat,” added Rep. Pruitt.
“We are grateful to have such an honorable man in our caucus and look forward to working with him to continue the work of the people, and we thank our colleagues in the Senate Republicans who did support the confirmation of Rep. Shaw through this process,” he said.
Rep. DeLena Johnson from Palmer wrote: “It is a sad day when a man who is an American hero (Seal Team 1), had a standout professional career (Trooper Academy instructor and more), an incredible legislator and man of integrity is not confirmed. I’m absolutely shocked (and disappointed).”
Sen. Mia Costello took her dismay to Facebook:
“I’m distressed to have to report that Rep. Laddie Shaw’s appointment to the Alaska Senate was not confirmed by the Senate Republicans. I believe that Laddie is an Alaskan of the highest caliber, and I’m proud to have enthusiastically supported his confirmation today,” she wrote.
“I find our Senate leadership’s refusal to confirm to be an shocking act of disrespect to Rep. Laddie Shaw, whose character, integrity, and honor are all beyond reproach. Laddie is a former Navy SEAL who has dedicated a major portion of his life to serving the public, whether as a SEAL, as a Navy reservist, as an Alaska State Trooper academy instructor, as the Police Standards Council director, as the director of the state’s Division of Veterans Affairs, or as a State Representative.”
Costello continued writing, directing her comments to Rep. Shaw and his district: “To Laddie: please don’t let this dissuade you from continuing to do the right thing and representing your constituents well. You have a record of honor that all envy — but few can match.
“To the residents of District 26, please know that you are represented by a good man, one of the absolute best. Representative Shaw is a man of small stature — but he towers nonetheless. He has nothing to be ashamed of. I wish we could all say the same.”
Sen. Shelley Hughes filmed a Facebook video, where she expressed her disappointment:
“I am disappointed to report that he was not confirmed,” said Sen. Hughes. “I publicly stated I was supporting him. I believe he would have been an excellent addition. He’s a team player, he’s very fair, reasonable, open for discussion and working things through. He would have been a great asset to the Senate majority. I”m disappointed, and am shocked really, that someone who was a Navy SEAL was not supported. He’s not only a great Alaskan but a great American. Also a press release went out from the Senate Republicans, and I didn’t agree with what it stated … My vote was not a secret so you know where I stand.
“I wanted to say directly to Laddie: Thank you. Thank you so much for stepping up. You’ve been a tremendous leader in the House and I know you’ll continue that. I expect great things, and even though you didn’t get added to the Senate at this point, I know you will work hard, because that’s just who you are.”
Sen. Mike Shower also went to Facebook and stated that he voted for Shaw.
“I voted for Laddie Shaw’s confirmation today in the senate. Wanted that to be perfectly clear for those who are going to ask which way I voted on his nomination,” Shower wrote.
“A veteran Navy Seal with 2 combat tours in Vietnam and time teaching at the Trooper Academy (the only civilian to be allowed to do so I’m told), he has been a dedicated servant to our state and nation – pretty much his entire life. Hard to find a better individual – even if one disagreed with some of his positions on a particular issue.
“I am disappointed he was not confirmed and agree with his assessment as posted in today’s ADN article – the no vote on his nomination is about his position on the dividend (supports). It’s open knowledge the senate has been highly divided over the PFD.”
Sen. Peter Micciche wrote on Facebook:
“Many of you are asking about my vote today regarding the confirmation of Representative Laddie Shaw to the Senate.
“Laddie is a great American, great Alaskan, career Navy Seal, (second) career trainer for the Trooper Academy and a lifelong adventurer. I am impressed by his honor, integrity and impeccable credentials. I am not posting to bash others for their vote, but I proudly supported Laddie with my vote today and hoped to welcome him to the Senate.
“Needless to say, I am sincerely disappointed. Luckily, we are still blessed to have Representative Shaw continuing to serve in the House. below is my August 30 post when I prematurely congratulated him with a warm welcome to the Senate. The longer I serve in politics, the more perplexed I become.”
And finally, this evening, Gov. Michael Dunleavy posted his views:
“Today, a majority of Senate Republicans failed to confirm Representative Laddie Shaw to fill the vacancy to Senate District M – the seat held by the late Senator Chris Birch. Laddie Shaw is well-qualified, there’s no question. He was overwhelmingly elected into office, his District put his name forward among a group of highly qualified individuals, and he has a history of service as a Navy Seal, as a decorated was veteran, and a public servant. Laddie Shaw was someone well-deserving and qualified of this appointment.
“In a statement issued by Senate Republicans, it appears now they are pushing a political litmus test based entirely upon the PFD. Senate District M is more than a single issue district. District M deserves qualified representation based on a wide variety of issues, not just one.
“I want to thank Representative Shaw for going through this process and look forward to our continued work together. I now have ten days to fill this vacancy, as prescribed by law, and look forward to updating you again shortly.”