Will Rep. Merrick pay the price for voting in Stutes as House Speaker?


Rep. Kelly Merrick is a fighter, and she is married to one of the biggest political players in the state — Labor leader Joey Merrick, which has always given conservatives pause.

Joey Merrick is usually fighting against conservative candidates in his role with numerous political action committees, all backed by union interests. He is the business manager for Laborers’ Local 341. He’s got political muscle of the Democrat flavor.

But Kelly Merrick is the representative for District 14, one of the deepest red areas in the state. Her departure from the Republican majority to put Rep. Louise Stutes and the Democrats in charge isn’t going to be easy for her back home, where the district voted 6,714 for Trump/Pence, and 4,261 for Biden/Harris in November.

Merrick said in a statement that she is not joining the caucus she just put in charge of the House with her deciding vote:

“Today, I voted to elect Republican Representative Louise Stutes as Speaker of the House, ending more than three weeks of deadlock and allowing the Legislature to move forward. It was by no means an easy decision to make, but it ensured that no matter how organization comes together, there will be a Republican Speaker.

“To be clear, I have not joined the Alaska House Coalition. However, like most Alaskans, I have been frustrated by taking the same fruitless votes day after day and I felt we could no longer afford to delay extending the Governor’s emergency disaster declaration, crafting a fiscally conservative budget, and passing the construction jobs bill.

“Speaker Stutes has served many years in the Legislature, has personal relationships with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and is committed to bringing people together to tackle issues facing Alaska.”

In 2018, Stutes, the late Rep. Gary Knopp, and other Republicans formed a bipartisan coalition with the Democrats. Back then, Rep. Bryce Edgmon relinquished his Democrat-party affiliation and became “undeclared” so he could be the Speaker and still give the Republicans who joined the coalition sone political cover.

That didn’t work out for most of them — Jennifer Johnston, Chuck Kopp, and Gabrielle LeDoux lost their seats in the House. Tammie Wilson chose to retire. Stutes didn’t have an opponent. Knopp died in a plane crash.

When Kelly Merrick ran for reelection in 2020, her district supported her because she had not joined the Democratic caucus in 2018.

Must Read Alaska has learned that activists in Merrick’s district are preparing to discuss a censure of Merrick when they meet on Wednesday, Feb. 17.


  1. “I’m not part of their caucus, I just voted to put the Democrats in charge out of the goodness of my heart”

  2. It doesn’t matter who is Speaker. There is a Gordian knot in the House and an almost impossible task to balance the budget. There is no money left. Only a gigantic debt to the Constitutional Budget Reserve Account.
    There are only two choices:
    1. Zero Dividend for the foreseeable future – absolutely the single best think we can do for long term economic stability
    2. Raid the Permanent Fund: – absolutely the single worst thing we can do for long term economic stability.
    3. I take that back. An even worse thing would be to raise taxes and still pay the Dividend. Stutes has been known to support such a notion but I doubt she can make that absurd idea happen.

    • Don’t worry, now a days all you have to do is extend “emergency” forever and socialism pays all of the bills.

    • Don’t be naive…of course it matters. The Speaker and their coalition determine who Chairs the various committees, as well as what legislation goes forward for a full vote of the House membership. This is a significant gain (again) for Progressives in Alaska.

      • You say it matters but its not much fun to chair committees when there is no money to spend and an unpopular but correct decision (suspend the Dividend) needs to be made. History shows that the House is a House of Cards (mostly jokers).

      • Doug, actually we have $71 Billion in the Permanent Fund of which $6 Billion is in the Earnings Reserve Account of the Permanent Fund. The Legislature has already been taking the maximum sustainable 5% of total PF Value each year to pay for government costs AND the Dividend. This year, the budget deficit is even worse than prior years such that even with no Dividend at all there is still a budget deficit.

    • If you have a rainy day fund, and a monsoon just wiped out your crops, your idea is to not use the rainy day fund? Not only is it there for times like these, not only did it ride the rocket ship of the market, and realize gains, the political class betrayed the voter. First thing first, they need to make amends, they need to pay what is owed. Then, they need to consider a current relief package—then they need to right size government- but gradually. The private sector has been hit hard. Government bloat and largess shouldn’t prop them up in perpetuity, but it also should be yanked out from under businesses that have been built to support it—those businesses just reacted to market conditions—so a harsh correction isn’t warranted- at least not in such dramatic times. A conservative approach should be conservative. Gradual correction over the long haul. Might feel good to tell them to cut it all until it’s your brothers coffee shop next to the government office that closes.. imagine the Fairbanks economy if the military was cut and the bases closed..and an argument can be made that smart infrastructure investment can lead to more investment. Tired words I’m sure, but Key word being smart. In an age where liquid worth is worth-less every day, assets are king. Thank God we have our state liquid in the market, but even better may be that we had it in roads to resources or cheap energy to attract industry. We will get no help from Biden and the eco-Nazis and statists and leftist groups. Saving is usually smart, and reasonable budgets are essential for any solvent entity- but Sitting on a savings account isn’t going to bring any investment or help struggling businesses and families.

  3. If she’s not joining the Democrats in a majority then it’s a shrewd political move to get the log jam busted up, for now…the good and bad news is that there will be many more log jams to come. At least she took action and got the rest of the clowns to work, now these elected officials who have been paid to do nothing no longer have the excuse that there’s no head clown in charge!

    • AMEN! Your comment says it well without the finger-pointing and misaligned rhetoric! Right the ship, yes indeed! Change the statute – after all, it is an antiquated statute that applied while the state was awash in oil revenues. Cut the budget to fit today’s realities and change the 40+-year old statutory formula. This state can’t afford a $5000 PFD for every man, woman, and child who claims residence and stay afloat with the uncertainties ahead. I’m an elderly retiree who worked all my life and cannot afford a hefty income tax on my life’s work to support a ridiculous PFD for every man, woman, and child in this state. So are the politicians looking for votes or do they intend to do the right thing?

    • The PFD is not the State’s money – stop stealing it. Stealing it functions as the most regressive possible tax. Cut the budget – this means laying off people and killing programs. Tell the dems to go someplace warm and leave Alaska alone – fill the pipe and sell it to whoever will buy it. The ship can never be righted as long as the govt thinks they know better than we do how to spend our money.

    • Just like the Alaska Marine Highway, too many pseudo-sailors gorging on the public rum too. Bin a few of those public sector pirates first, maybe?

    • SFC, drop the dividend and right the ship? Poor analogy. A better analogy for dropping the dividend would be that of locking the lower deck doors to keep the rabble away from the life boats while you and the other privileged passengers Don your life vests. BTW have you considered stopping the leak?

      • Good one Robert… very good one… as we stand on the promenade deck, listening to the string quartet (the legislature) play Schubert as the ship sinks. However, in this analogy, even the women and children are unable to get on lifeboats.

  4. She is a traitor, should have seen this coming, the spouse of a corrupt union leader. The republican party sure can attract a lot of democrats.

    • I commend you for at least admitting you “should have seen this coming.” Most refuse to admit to being so easily played. They insist on blaming the candidates rather than taking responsibility for their poor voting choices (see Murkowski voters).

  5. Alaska RINO party strikes again. She is my representative. However, she is NOT representing me. Time to tighten my purse strings. First thing to cut is political contributions.

  6. Look at the PF website. $8 BILLION in the ERA, plus $6 BILLION in unrealized earnings. Alaska population: 731,545 (2019) x $5,000 = $3.66 BILLION. Now is the time to help ALL Alaskans, not just the “connected”. And yet we are broke….. seems legit. The State will ALWAYS spend more that they have available, always. That’s why taxes always go up, always. Stop the steal. If you don’t realize that taking anything from the PFD to pay for government more than the 50% of the earnings already accounted for in the statutory formula is not a TAX, please think again. Anything the government charges is a tax.

  7. Just look at the report from the PF corp, up 3% in Dec, 12% for 2020, up 10% on the 5 year rolling average. Stop with the “We’ll go broke” excuses.

  8. I am a proud retired member of the Alaska Laborers Union and a constituent of Rep. Kelly Merrick. The union never speaks for me but the representative of District 14 was elected to represent the majority of Alaskans here in Eagle River who voted for her. Overall Alaskans elected 21 Republicans and 19 Democrats to the Alaska House of Representatives. Only through self-serving maneuvers of two false Republicans do we now see a Democrat majority coalition in charge in Juneau. The idea that Rep. Merrick has not joined the coalition is facetious; she will get a payoff and my union will capitalize on it regardless of the wishes of those of us who trusted in her enough to vote for her.

  9. I agree with you completely Don and those that say the people need the Dividends more than the bloated State budget. The cuts they claim to make are all “smoke and mirrors”. They bellow about cuts and lack of money but the total budget goes up every year. Rep Merrick is in my District and she just sold us out to the Democrats. She will not get my vote ever again and I am tired of sending money to the AK GOP who can’t elect or nominate loyal members. If the Democrats are going to rule every year it’s better to just support them. The District and State Gop should censure both Merrick and Stutes, and cut off funds to re-elect them. But they won’t because just as they say and do nothing about Murkowski they will stay silent.

  10. Start with censure… then primary this flip flopping fake Republcan
    Out of be office in Eagle River.
    **Drain the Swamp … & RED — Remove Every Democrat

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