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More shuffling and buzz in Alaska's state legislative chambers

Amanda Coyne

The mercurial new Alaska State Senate majority coalition has shifted yet again. On Friday, the majority announced via press release that a Democrat, Sen. Dennis Egan of Juneau, has joined 13 Republicans and will now chair the Senate Transportation Committee.

The Senate, which until Election Day had been split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, is now 13-7 in favor of the GOP. Egan’s the first Democrat to join the group. No word what the other six Dems are going to do, but it’s not inconceivable, and maybe even likely, that one or both Bush Democratic senators, Lyman Hoffman and Donny Olson, will join the group. The two are not above joining Republican-led majorities.

Fifteen is the magic number. If they can get there, the majority will have the procedural run of the Senate.

And there’s more buzz on the House side among the dozens of perpetually-text-messaging politicos and the few members of the Alaska punditocracy who still find such stuff interesting. How did it come to be, they wonder in typo-ridden smartphone pings, that powerful Anchorage Rep. Mike Hawker didn’t even get a seat on the powerful House Finance Committee? He was, it was said, going for co-chair. Instead, Mat-Su Rep. Bill Stoltze and Kodiak Rep. Alan Austerman will share that prize.

Word is that a clash of personalities and out-maneuvering did the trick. Though apparently politicians in the room who witnessed it all would have to kill you before talking. Hawker didn’t return calls.

In other, less typo-ridden text-worthy news, the House Democrats have also organized:

  • Juneau Rep. Beth Kerttula will be House Democratic Leader.
  • Anchorage Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) will be the Whip.
  • Anchorage Rep. Max Gruenberg will remain House Democratic Floor Leader.

House Finance Committee:

  • Anchorage Rep. Les Gara
  • Fairbanks Rep. David Guttenberg
  • Fairbanks Rep. Scott Kawasaki

Committee assignments coming. 

Contact Amanda Coyne at amanda@alaskadispatch.com