Alaska House of Representative Republicans will meet during the first week of December to vote on the governor’s nomination of Mel Gillis for House District 25.
Gillis was chosen by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Sunday to replace Josh Revak, who moved to the Senate after the death of Sen. Chris Birch, Senate Seat M. There are 22 Republicans in the House who must be consulted, said House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt.
At this point, Pruitt is more-or-less the lead person for that Republican majority, which will total 23 if or when Gillis is accepted by House GOP members.
But some of those Republicans have joined a coalition that is led by Democrats, and their loyalties may be split now. They are Jennifer Johnston, Chuck Kopp, Gary Knopp, Bart LeBon, Louise Stutes, and Steve Thompson. Their leader is Rep. Kopp, who is House Rules Chair and the highest ranking Republican in the House.
Still, they are Republicans and their six votes will be counted, Pruitt said, just as the 17 votes in the Republican caucus.
The delay in voting Gillis’ nomination up or down comes because the caucus and the five who joined the Democrats need time to get to know Gillis so they can form an opinion, Pruitt said. Then comes the Thanksgiving holiday, when many are out of town. Early December seems like the right spot on the calendar, giving everyone enough time.
Gillis, meanwhile, had returned to Anchorage over the weekend from an out-of-state hunt he was on to interview with the governor. The 76-year-old, cigar-chomping hunting guide was last seen heading out-of-state to join his hunting party once again, in pursuit of a white-tailed deer.