Compromise proposed for Senate seat

April 13, 2009 

State lawmakers are saying that former Juneau Mayor Dennis Egan could be the candidate for the open state Senate seat that would end the standoff between Gov. Sarah Palin and Senate Democrats over who should get the job.

"Egan is a magical name in Alaska politics and Democrats can be expected to look on it very favorably if this nomination comes forward," Senate Majority Leader Johnny Ellis, a Democrat from Anchorage, said in an e-mail Monday evening.

But it remains to be seen whether Palin is interested in appointing Egan. "The governor is still considering the options," said Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow.

Senate Democrats have already rejected two of Palin's appointees for the seat that's open because Juneau Democrat Kim Elton resigned for a job in the Obama administration. House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula, the choice of Juneau Democratic Party officials for the seat, said Monday that she is supporting Egan.

So is Valdez Republican Rep. John Harris. Egan is the son of Bill Egan, the state's first governor, who was from Valdez. "Gov. Bill Egan was a strong advocate for all Alaskans, be they rural or urban, Democrat or Republican. He never let a party label get in the way of what is right for Alaska. His son, Dennis, has the same attributes as his father," Harris said in a written statement.

Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho proposed Egan's name as a way to end the stalemate over the Senate seat. Senate majority leader Ellis said the Senate Democrats haven't gotten together to talk about Egan but "I can tell you there was an excited buzz in the Capitol building when folks started hearing about the Botelho proposal."

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