Technically disordered: No majority, no committees in the Alaska House

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A handful of House members in session wasn’t enough today. Newly minted Speaker Louise Stutes of Kodiak had to call a technical session just nine minutes before the Alaska House of Representatives was scheduled to meet.

The only order of business was to gavel out.

Already, three key members of the House had headed for the airport — Republicans Kelly Merrick, Steve Thompson, and Bart LeBon. Others were on the Friday afternoon flight north, leaving Stutes and her Democrat surrogates wandering the halls of the Capitol, looking for another Republican to poach into the new Stutes-Democrat majority.

Stutes couldn’t get a Committee on Committees together to meet, so no report was issued with the names of committee chairs. Without committees, there is no organization, just a Speaker who replaced the Speaker Pro Tem. Stutes couldn’t get any of the Republicans to give her the time of day — the ones who remained in Juneau were busy caucusing all day.

Stutes had, on Thursday, become Speaker after a surprise secret side deal by Democrat Rep. Zack Fields and Republican Rep. Kelly Merrick was crafted. Republicans didn’t know about the deal on Thursday until they were walking down the hallways to the House Chambers.

Democrats had only learned of the play on the evening prior. When the nomination was made and the vote called, Merrick was in the first group of legislators to hit the green button. Among the last to vote were Josiah Patkotak and DeLena Johnson. Johnson is often one of the last to vote, while Patkotak was serving as Speaker Pro Tem.

Patkotak seemed ready for the change as he was reading from a script to execute the play.

Stutes, a Republican, has caucused with the Democrats for several years. Must Read Alaska has learned that even she was unaware of the deal between Fields and Merrick. Merrick, of District 14 Eagle River, became the 21st vote.

“This is the most dysfunctional House that I’ve seen,” said a longtime observer. “You’ve got a majority that has the far, far left in it, with Geran Tarr, Ivy Spohnholz, Liz Snyder, and Zack Fields, and then you have moderate people like Chris Tuck, who are stuck with these people who are like having four David Eastmans for the Democrats.” (Eastman has in the past been difficult for Republicans to form a caucus with because he is often uncompromising.)

Merrick stated in a press release that she was not, in fact, joining the Democrat caucus, but she slipped out of the side door after the vote in the House Chambers, put her phone on mute, and then headed for the airport before daylight. Republicans remaining in the building fought rumors that Merrick had, in fact, joined the Democrat caucus and it’s unclear if that was a bit of disinformation floated by the Democrats to force her over to their caucus.

Fields, who closed the deal with Merrick, was a longtime employee of the Laborers Union 341, where Merrick’s husband is the Business Manager. Fields and the Merricks are close friends.

A 21-member caucus is considered unstable because any one member can hold the entire caucus hostage. But as of Friday night, there is no majority caucus. There is a Speaker and 39 House members who are in even worse disarray than they were before she became Speaker.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Good, all that can happen from these scoundrels is more RINO treason and emergency declarations for a virus hoax. Let the whole dammed thing completely shut down for the rest of the year.

  2. Representative Merrick has crossed the Rubicon. She sold out her Republican colleagues once and she will do it again. Next week, the Left will pick up another traitor or two, Rep. Merrick can get a plum committee chair and nicer office, and then the real destruction can start.

  3. Good. Howabout they all go home, and do NOTHING this year?

    That would be infinitely better than the preceding 63…

  4. The adults in the House are working up a plan to have R’s and D’s serve as co-chairs of various committees. Why not try this kind of power sharing arrangement?

    • You mean like a “unity” ticket? We all know how that worked out. I think the character limit would kick in if I attempted to list the miserable failures, some of which we may never recover from, during that experiment. Nice thought but doesn’t work well in application.

  5. I have to agree. Let’s not get any work done, can’t do any more damage to the state than the possible outcome of this next house organization would be able to do if they aren’t organized. It’s truly nice to see though, that there are a few maybe 18 republicans with courage so far. Let stick together like gorilla glue and not break. Be like the democrats and trader rino. Stick together at all cost. I know I’m asking for a lot but Please don’t bend or break.

  6. Apparently Rep Merrick takes orders from her union husband and I and many other ER voters were lied to when she said she was a conservative Republican. She didn’t get to memo from the last election that defeated many long time Republicans who betrayed those that voted for them. She gotten the last vote she will ever get from me and anyone in this district that I can remind of her betrayal. I have had it with Rinos so I might as well vote for a democrat that admits they will represent. A district 24 voter.

  7. Of Course LeBon, Merrick and Thompson hopped on a plane. They couldn’t face the strong Republicans after they betrayed them.

    • I wouldn’t trust LeBon as far as I could throw him. He showed his true colors last session. He’s a pushover. I’m still in shock about Rep. Thompson. I always thought he could be counted on. Obviously not. And Merrick? I’m not in district 24 but believe me, my friends that are, are PISSED. Her “letter of explanation” may as well have been written by Bryce Edgmon and actually might have been. LeBon and Merrick can’t take the heat, so they split. Thompson just needs to stop running for office and retire. He’s lost his luster.

  8. I’ll wait a bit before passing judgment and take Kelly’s press release at face value. At this point, buying popcorn may be in order. Cheers –

  9. I think where she lays her head every night has trumped where she makes her money to serve Alaska and Eagle River. First, she runs as an R, with a “letter of explanation” as to the fact that she really is an R although her husband isn’t (and a union shill) – kind of like the Mary Matalin/James Carville marriage. Now, we get the democrat template “letter of reason”. Does she really think that explains her actions? She’s more green than I thought.
    .
    Well, IMO, the Kelly Merrick experiment is officially over. She has shown her true colors now.

  10. I bet the House Democrats and Red hot Republicans would had worked a little bit better toward organizing if they all just elected a Newbie Rep. Patkotak as The Speaker of the House. oh yeah I forgot Patkotak is too Native for House Democrats to even consider casting their real votes for it. So much for being Equitable Alaska Democrats. Equity in Name-Only right? Hahaha

    Paktotak appears to be a Fine looking decent young leader who looks like he still listens and respects his elders both white and brown skinned born, and is more than capable learning how to do the House Speaker responsibilities.

  11. I didn’t see where it said LeBon and Thompson had joined the D’s again like they did two years ago. All it said was they left town. What did I miss?

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