The Alaska House of Representatives Committee on Committees unanimously supported Speaker Bryce Edgmon’s choice for the Alaska Redistricting Board, according to a source that was close to the committee.
That means four Republicans denied their own party a conservative pick to the board that will shape the political destiny of Alaska for the next decade.
Although Nicole Borromeo is not the most radical member of any Redistricting Board in the state’s history, she is close. Perhaps only Vikki Otte and Julian Mason of the 2001 Redistricting Board are more to the left of Borromeo, who is a Doyon shareholder. She was a leader and spokesperson in the successful ouster of sitting Judge Michael Corey in 2018, and she was outspoken against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Borromeo also signed the petition to recall the governor.
The concern about the Redistricting Board going blue all started in 2019. Edgmon, a Democrat who only became an undeclared voter in order to become Speaker, had signed a pledge in February of 2019 that said his pick to the board would meet with the approval of the majority of the Committee on Committees, which was mainly Republican, albeit Republicans who had abandoned their fellow Republican Majority.
That single line was part of the binding caucus agreement that seven Republicans cobbled together to put him in the Speaker’s chair for the past two years, even though he is a lifelong Democrat. The House of Representatives has a clear majority of Republicans, with 23 of the 40 seats. In fact, it had been controlled by Republicans for decades. Then seven Republicans went over to the other side and created a deal for themselves.
On Feb. 13, 2019, one day before the binding caucus agreement was signed, Must Read Alaska wrote: “Giving Edgmon the Speaker’s gavel effectively gives the Democrats one seat on the five-member redistricting board, something Republicans are opposed to.”
There are just 15 Democrats and two members who are undeclared in the House. The seat on the Redistricting Board was supposed to be chosen by a Republican Speaker — but that was denied by the “unity” ticket approach that installed a Democrat at its head.
The four Republicans on the Committee on Committees who supported this choice for Redistricting are Louise Stutes, Jennifer Johnston, Chuck Kopp and Steve Thompson. Neal Foser and Bryce Edgmon are the only two Democrats actually on the committee.
According to MRAK sources, the committee met telephonically with all members present except for Rep. Chuck Kopp, who was fishing in Bristol Bay. Edgmon said he had Kopp’s approval before the meeting.
The Redistricting Board is appointed toward the end of every U.S. Census and redraws political boundaries as populations shift. The board members must come from different areas of the state. Borromeo is in place to represent rural Alaska because she has roots in McGrath, although she lives in Anchorage.
An excellent history of Alaska redistricting can be found at this link in a master’s thesis by Chloe Cotton, while a student at Claremont College.
Only one seat remains to be named to the Redistricting Board, and it is the choice of Alaska Supreme Court Justice Joel Bolger, who has come out publicly against the Dunleavy Administration on several occasions. The other seats have been named by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who chose Bethany Marcum and E. Budd Simpson, and by Senate President Cathy Giessel, who chose John Binkley.