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Saturday, September 26, 2020
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The Alaska Republican Minority-Majority

“We can agree to disagree. A diversity of viewpoints makes us stronger.”


In 2018, Alaskans turned out and cast their votes for governor and legislative representatives, overwhelmingly electing Republicans statewide.  The governor’s race was won by a Republican who ran on balancing the state budget, bringing spending in line with revenues, and constitutionally protecting the Permanent Fund Dividend.  

In the 40-member Alaska House of Representatives, Republicans won 23 of the 40 seats, a majority. In the Alaska State Senate, Republicans won 13 of the 20 seats, again, a majority. The Senate Republican majority is substantial.

Lately there have been rumors afloat that Senate leadership is rearranging the makeup of the Senate Finance committee, which would favor Democrats.  The intent of rumor-mongering by less-than-honest characters is false bait that seeks a reaction to drive wedges between majority members and Senate leadership.

The same rumor mill falsely alleges some majority members are attempting to unseat current leadership. 

Alaskans shouldn’t fall for this sleight of hand; I’m not.  

As a member of the Republican majority, I took the Senate Republican leadership at their word when we formed as a modified non-binding caucus.  I assume they intend to honor the commitments we made to one another.

We’re human, and at times we disagree on policies, sometimes vociferously. This is natural and nothing is wrong when it happens. 

However, we represent our constituents first and foremost above those of a caucus, and this is vitally important on a fundamental voter level. We are still professionals who do our best to be respectful. As majority members, we are always seeking common ground where there are differences. The bottom line is we agree on more than we disagree — a tenet that is the common thread that keeps us talking in the same room.

To go one step further, the current nine-member Senate Finance committee is a well-replicated mirror of the Republican majority held on the full floor of the Senate. Six Republicans and three Democrats represent the nine-member committee. The full Senate includes 13 Republicans and seven Democrats. The current parity is an almost perfectly balanced representation of the full Senate on the Senate Finance committee. The Senate Finance Committee is made up of 66 percent Republicans, and the entire Senate body is made up of 65 percent Republicans.  Diminishing this balance would hand power to the Democrat minority.

When the Senate organized and expanded the Finance Committee from seven to nine members, it wisely balanced the current Republican/Democrat percentage split of the Senate as a whole. 

With the tragic passing of Senator Chris Birch this year and his replacement now appointed, there will be some new committee assignments to account for the vacancy left by the loss of Chris. 

Perhaps leadership will simply replace Senator Revak into Senator Birch’s assignments so there is as little disruption as possible as we dive right into year two of this legislative session.

But reducing Senate Finance Republican presence by reducing the size of the committee? Changing the balance of power to three Democrats and four Republicans from the current makeup of three Democrats and six Republicans? It’s hard to imagine our Republican leadership would choose to put Alaskans at a disadvantage by over-representing the minority agenda and under-representing the majority agenda. 

I believe republican forms of government should have enumerated powers (constitutionally limited government), maximize personal liberty, promote individual responsibility, devolve decisions and control to the most local level possible, and be fiscally responsible (balanced budget).

In the Alaska House of Representatives, a 57.5 percent Republican majority handed the 37.5 percent Democrat minority great power and essentially control of the chamber (and making a Democrat ‘turned’ Independent the Speaker). 

This was the result of six Republican legislators joining with the Democrat minority. The ‘defectors’, in essence, gave the Democrats a 57.5 percent majority and left the duly elected majority Republicans as the new minority at 37.5 percent. Are Alaskans well represented under this scenario?  The result was the disenfranchisement of the Republican, Conservative, Independent, and Undeclared voters who voted for a Republican majority in the House.

Why did six House Republicans choose such a path? Alaskans should ask them.  

On Senate Finance, there are significant policy differences, the most contentious being the Permanent Fund dividend. Last session, as it turned out, traditional PFD supporters on the Senate Finance committee were a five to four majority. If Sen. Peter Micciche and I were both removed, as alleged by rumor mongers, it would tilt not only fiscal policy to the more liberal minority, but leave fewer traditional PFD supporters on the committee.  

I do not believe, however, Senate leadership fears a debate on the merits of differing ideas. We may strenuously disagree, but it makes our majority stronger, this diversity of viewpoints. It prevents anyone from living in their own ‘echo’ chamber because we are not, nor should we be required to be, homogeneous in our positions. 

Senate majority leadership has not attempted to silence my voice to win a fight, and it’s hard to believe they are suddenly going to begin now. It may cause tension at times, but I’ve been free to voice my opinions or positions. No responsible Senate leader or majority caucus should or would dilute the will of the voters like that. I am confident Senate leadership and our Republican Caucus understand and respect this.

The future of our state is at risk if we cannot come together with solutions to our fiscal and policy challenges. Diluting the percentage split on Senate Finance would only drive a wedge in our Republican Senate majority and push us closer to a house like majority coalition. It would disenfranchise every Republican and others who labored and put resources into electing a clear Republican majority in the Senate. The distinction is incredibly crucial for Alaska as we confront budgetary constraints, education issues, welfare & healthcare reforms, public safety concerns, resource production declines, and the long-term preservation of our Permanent Fund and Dividend program.  It’s a path I simply don’t believe leadership is interested in pursuing.  

In fact, and to prove the point rumor mongers are looking to foster nothing but trouble with these “credible” sources, our office just today received paperwork for staff hiring for Senate Finance committee members for the upcoming session.  Why would the Senate Finance Co-chairs, two of the five in Senate leadership, include us if they really planned to do something different? 

Rumors are just that, rumors.  We can do better, I believe we will.  

Senator Mike Shower represents District E: Mat-Su, Delta Junction, Copper River Valley, Talkeetna and Valdez.

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Latest comments

  • When we saw the unanimous votes in the Senate on Budget bills, and that “punishment would apply” from the Senate President, while she sat as Chair, I have to wonder about the modifications to the binding Caucus Rule. (Yes, Lora Reinbold was a solo no vote, and no action has been taken to date, but Shower and Hughes also left the floor, so their vote would not have to be taken. Wilson was not permitted to “abstain”. )

    The split in the Republican ranks was never more apparent than in the Call for a Special Session in Wasilla. Costello went to Wasilla and was removed as Majority Leader in the Senate, by the rogue leadership in that body. I cannot say that all is well in the Senate or the House, where the Dem coalition is still operating. Personally, I do hope for new leadership in the Senate, but if such a move were to cause another coalition … there is some pause for reconsideration.

    I wish good hunting for the RINO hunters in the next primary !

  • Senator Shower may not have the same reservations on the Senate Leadership but the majority of Alaskans I talk to do not share the same belief. I commend him for having an open mind but the tactics seen last session by the Senate Leadership against the Duly elected Republican Governor who campaigned on exactly what he did. Those at the top of the Senate Leadership have just one more chance to impact the Alaskan Economy for the better by limiting the size and growth of Government or they will be replaced shortly.

  • “I believe republican forms of government should have enumerated powers (constitutionally limited government), maximize personal liberty, promote individual responsibility, devolve decisions and control to the most local level possible, and be fiscally responsible (balanced budget).”

    If every one of our elected representatives believed this and acted accordingly our budget problems would quickly disappear as we returned to, or maybe established for the first time ever, limited government that understands its role in our society.

    Government doesn’t exist to coddle us or to minimize the effects of our bad decisions (or even bad luck) by handing out cash and goodies from the public treasury.

    Nor does it exist to provide us with public sector jobs. At the local level I’ve actually heard people equate government jobs with economic development.

    True economic development is driven by private sector free enterprise as entrepreneurs identify and work to satisfy unserved consumer demand.

    Economic development does not result from government taking resources from productive people to fund public sector jobs.

    Public sector jobs are properly created to allow government to fulfill its limited functions (security, essential services, protection of our human rights, etc.). They are a necessary evil that we should minimize rather than a source of wealth creation that we should celebrate as “economic development.”

    Private sector spending and investment is driven by supply and demand in a free market. The aggregated demand of millions of individuals sends a signal to the thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses that determines how resources are to be allocated in a free market. The consumer is in control.

    Public sector spending and investment is driven by politicians and unelected bureaucrats who are pressured and influenced by their own individual preferences, biases and special interests. Their decisions are not guided by the aggregate demands (preferences) of the people they serve but by other factors. It’s a form of central planning (made infamous by communists, socialists and liberal democrats) where a small subset of the population is in control.

    If government understood its role in our society, its constitutional limitations, we, the people, would be left to spend and invest the fruits of our labors as we see fit and we would be left to enjoy the rewards of our good decisions AND to suffer the consequences of our bad decisions.

    We learn through our mistakes and by observing the mistakes of others but not if our Robin Hood government keeps bailing us out with other money taken from people who made better decisions.

    Limited government and allowing people to take personal responsibility for their decisions and actions requires the abolition of all publicly funded social welfare schemes. Otherwise we’re just rewarding bad behavior and preventing people from learning and improving.

    • PJ Olson, I could not have said it better. Great job!

      • JP & DB I am with you both EM Jr

  • The simple answer to the question as to why Jennifer Johnston and others running under the Republican banner as “Conservatives” and getting elected under their false flag is that they have no honor. Clearly, they have lied to voters that relied upon false representations uttered by these individuals. The Republican Party in Alaska is void of strong conservative leadership. The “Ann Brown’s” of the Party including Representative Johnston sum up the current state of the Party – BIG HATS, BIG BOOTS – NO COWS.

  • Showers is a decent guy trying to get the job done for his constituents and every Alaskan. He’s not a partisan hack, which is why he is the subject of rumors.

    If it isn’t obvious by now, the reason a half dozen Republicans organized with non-aligned members of the House and the Democratic members was largely due to the stooging around by Tuckerman Babcock, the former Chief of Staff for the governor. Babcock was largely responsible for driving moderate R’s into a coalition with the D’s and I’s. Why Governor Dunlevy put a guy like Tuckerman Babcock into a position requiring significant administrative and communication skills is an open question but what is obvious is that it worked out in a lousy manner for our governor. He’s working overtime to get out from under the effects of Babcock’s short rein of incompetence.
    Odds are the goofball rumors swirling around the topic addressed by Senator Showers are sourced in the small sect of folks who foisted Babcock on Governor Dunleavy. The best thing to do is ignore them.

    • If your are insinuating that the ESTABLISHMENT Republicans in office are the ” rumor mill ” I agree! But call them what they are RINO’s None will ever stand with the Governor much less did they with Tuckerman … Beating a Dead Horse! …. never makes much sense….. Get off it Joe!

  • Where is this rumor coming from? To stop a rumor, we have to identify the source.

  • Mike, you’re kidding, right?
    “I do not believe, however, Senate leadership fears a debate on the merits of differing ideas.”
    Of course Peoples Imperial State Senate President Giessel does not fear a debate or, apparently much of anything else from her milquetoast colleagues!
    No senator who wants to keep his committee seat which, translated, means “keep access to the public trough and therefore be valuable to lobbyists”, will knowingly displease Peoples Imperial State Senate President Giessel by insisting PFD’s go to productive Alaskans instead of lobbyists’ clients.
    Mike did you not get a clue about How Things Work:
    when the governor called a special session outside the Holy City of Juneau and Peoples Imperial State Senate President Giessel disapproved;
    when Laddie Shaw, a combat veteran and PFD advocate, was nominated to replace Chris Birch and Peoples Imperial State Senate President Giessel disapproved;
    when you read the 2019 Alaska Lobbyist Directory and saw the size of the mob, including local governments, who’ve got their noses firmly fixed in the public trough, (you did read it…);
    when you realized a “budget” is just a piece of paper and productive Alaskans have no damned idea how much money comes in, where it goes, and are not likely to see an outside, independent forensic audit of finances and management practices that’ll report the facts;
    when you found out the Alaska Municipal League stashed $630 Million of taxpayers’ money safely out of taxpayers reach;
    when your colleagues seem afraid even to whisper the fact that the PFD is not a generous gift from the Holy City of Juneau, but a royalty payment for the confiscation of productive Alaskans’ private subsurface mineral rights?
    Mike, are you really, really sure you want to agree to disagree with a lobbyist-legislator team whose raison d’etre is spending us into oblivion?
    Might one suggest forgetting the revolting platitudes, self pity, preaching to the choir.
    Try going with who and what has to be kicked out of government to make the thing affordable.
    Then you might become a hero to a lot of people.

    • Divine revelation, Love It! Keep writing PLEASE music to my ears! With you all the way ED M Jr

    • Morrigan-I am researching AML….

    • Good response, Morrigan. I thought I was reading a retort by Art Chance, and then wondered if you were his pen name.

  • The Senator also represents the City of Whittier. Hard to see us behind the mountain and through the tunnel

  • Its not a rumor!!! Play your words as you will but the Finance Committee needs to be re-arranged and broken up. This last session of the legislature should have proved that to anyone that was viewing the sessions. They need to go elsewhere to do a better job in the sessions or get voted out at the end of their tenure. Being a Republican, I am all for some of this committee and some in the other committees moving on to private lives. They are not doing the public on either side any good but creating mayhem. I’m hoping they move on to private lives instead of looking at the issues and lying through their teeth, retaining their seat and doing a poor job. Excuses, excuses, excuses!!!

    • HEAR HEAR!

  • Politicians representing Themselves as having certain values to their constituents, and certain positions, then immediately betraying those positions, and that constituency, demonstrate they have no values at all.

    This is, was, and always shall be, the predicament of the discerning voter. Fooled once, they can blame these charlatans and political opportunists… but if they send them back again and again, knowing now what they are (e.g. Murkowski, et al) then they get what they deserve.

  • I commend Senator Shower for his article and his idealism/rational behavior. But idealism/rational behavior doesn’t play well in politics. Politics is personal, irrational, and nasty. That is why so many good people avoid it. Governor Dunleavy found this out as State Senator. I support you fully. Integrity says it all.

    • Dunleavy accomplished nothing as State Senator and he will likely be “recalled” from his latest job. Politics is personal and nasty, but quite rational IMO.

      • Sure as the sun rises in the East, the Doodler yips again.

  • Go Mike Go

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