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Alaska Legislature

In wake of veto struggle, Anchorage professor announces second run against incumbent state Rep. Lance Pruitt

In the midst of a divisive struggle over Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetoes, an Anchorage Democrat has filed -- months early -- for a second shot at unseating incumbent Alaska state Rep. Lance Pruitt, one of the governor’s staunchest supporters in the legislature.

East Anchorage resident Liz Snyder announced Thursday her intent to run for the Alaska House of Representatives District 27 seat in the November 2020 election. (Photo from Liz Snyder)

East Anchorage resident Liz Snyder announced Thursday her intent to run for the Alaska House of Representatives District 27 seat in the November 2020 election.

On Sunday night, Pruitt said he was too busy working on the current impasse to worry about news.

“I’m just laser-focused on trying to bring together all the different groups to find a solution to the current challenges,” he said.

Snyder’s announcement came well before most candidates begin plotting their election campaigns.

“Getting an early start is never a bad thing,” said Snyder, an associate professor of public health at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Snyder said her decision to announce early was driven by her frustration with Pruitt’s role in the political process. She is opposed to the sweeping budget cuts, which she said could “potentially bankrupt our communities” and send Alaska into a recession.

“Governor Dunleavy has not only vetoed $444 million from that budget, but has held the political process hostage by grandstanding in Wasilla,” Snyder wrote in a statement announcing her candidacy. “Current House Rep. Lance Pruitt of District 27 is one of the handful of elected officials standing beside him in this process.”

House District 27 is a swath of East Anchorage that includes parts of Muldoon and the Scenic Park neighborhood.

In 2018, Snyder launched a late-in-the-election-season campaign against Pruitt and lost by less than 200 votes.

Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, speaks as the new House minority leader on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 at the State Capitol. At center is Rep. DeLena Johnson, R-Palmer, the minority whip, and at left is Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, the minority finance leader. (James Brooks / ADN)

Pruitt has represented the district since 2011. The Republican serves as the House Minority Leader, and has been one of the legislators at the center of a bitter struggle between legislative factions over where to meet for a special session.

Pruitt is one of 22 legislators who chose to meet in Wasilla rather than Juneau for last week’s special session. He has generally supported the Dunleavy budget plan.

He’s heard from constituents and “people from all over the state” about the budget impasse, he said.

Pruitt said people don’t see he is “actively trying to bring people from both sides of the political spectrum,” together.

“We’re going to solve this when we compromise,” he said.

Snyder said people are paying attention to “individual leadership more than ever” and that she expects other incumbents to face challengers unhappy about the legislature’s role in the budget process.

“I don’t think (my campaign) is going to be an anomaly, in terms of early announcements,” she said. “I think people are motivated. People are mobilizing.”