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Alaska Legislature

Alaska House is split 20-20 and remains leaderless as Kodiak Republican sides with coalition

  • Author: James Brooks
  • Updated: December 9, 2020
  • Published December 9, 2020

Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, in the House chamber on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Kodiak Republican Rep. Louise Stutes told fellow Republicans late Tuesday that she will join the coalition bloc in the Alaska House of Representatives.

Her decision leaves no one in control of the 40-person House.

There are now 20 Republicans who favor a Republican-led majority, and there are 20 Democrats, independents and Stutes, who favor multipartisan leadership.

Twenty-one votes are needed for control.

Stutes has been a member of prior coalitions since 2016, but she had been publicly noncommittal about her position since this year’s general election, in which 21 Republicans were elected to the House.

“After giving it careful thought, I am making it public that I will be caucusing with my colleagues in the current House Majority Coalition who share my vision for a vibrant rural, as well as urban Alaska,” she said in a written statement.

Stutes’ legislative district includes Cordova, Kodiak, Yakutat and portions of the southern Kenai Peninsula. In a written statement, she said she needs to support a healthy state ferry system and statewide services.

“It is no secret that services rural Alaskans depend on have been disproportionately targeted for cuts. As a result, I have prioritized working with legislators who support those services and my district, regardless of party affiliation,” she said.

Attention will now fall on Fairbanks Republican Reps. Steve Thompson and Bart LeBon. Both, like Stutes, have been members of the coalition for the past two years. Each said before the general election that they prefer a Republican-led House, and both have participated in Republican organization efforts since the election.

If either returns to the coalition, that group would have enough votes for control. If Republicans sway a member of the coalition — and can keep together members of a group that campaigned against each other earlier this year — they could control the Alaska House for the first time since 2016.

Leadership of the Alaska Senate is also undecided, but for different reasons. Thirteen Republicans were elected to the Senate in November, but they are split on several issues that make it difficult for them to muster the 11 votes needed to control the 20-person Senate. The Senate’s Republicans were scheduled to meet Wednesday in an attempt to iron out their differences and — if successful — select a leader.

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