JUNEAU — Alaska House Republicans have confirmed Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s appointment of Republican Thomas Baker to the state House.
Baker was sworn in Monday, the Republican-led House majority said. Dunleavy had appointed Baker to replace independent Rep. Josiah Patkotak, who resigned last month after being elected North Slope Borough mayor.
Because Patkotak was an independent, Dunleavy was not bound by party affiliation in choosing a replacement, but there were questions around who would be involved in confirming his pick. Dunleavy’s office had said Baker’s name would be sent to Republican House members for a confirmation vote.
Provisions of law dealing with vacancies were tweaked under a 2020 ballot measure. Scott Kendall, an attorney and an author of that measure, has said the confirmation should be voted on by members of the House majority, regardless of their party affiliation.
Patkotak was one of four rural lawmakers — independents and Democrats — who this year joined with 19 Republicans to form a majority in the House.
Two House Republicans do not caucus with the majority. It was not immediately clear if they cast votes for Baker; Monday’s statement from the majority said Republican House Speaker Cathy Tilton had “reached out” to them. That statement also said support for Baker among majority House Republicans was unanimous.
A statement from Tilton’s office last week said the Department of Law and attorneys for the Legislature and caucus agreed that a majority of House Republicans were necessary to confirm Baker.
Baker, who is from Kotzebue, is a construction operations manager for Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corp. and chairs a regional advisory council for the Federal Subsistence Board, according to information that was provided by Dunleavy’s office.