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Democrat Hoffman joins Republican Alaska Senate majority

  • Author: Richard Mauer
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published November 6, 2014

A day after the newly formed Republican Senate majority announced itself, it added a Bush Democrat to its numbers, bringing the caucus to 15 members -- three-fourths of the Alaska Senate.

The Democrat is Sen. Lyman Hoffman, a long-serving legislator from Bethel who stayed with the small Democratic caucus in the previous Legislature when fellow Bush Democrat Donnie Olson of Golovin bolted to the majority.

This time around, Olson appears to be sticking with the Democrats, at least for now. So does Sen. Dennis Egan of Juneau, who also joined the Republicans two years ago and was rewarded with the chairmanship of the Senate Transportation Committee, a big concern for his Southeast constituency who always fear the Alaska Marine Highway System will be forgotten.

In announcing the Republican coalition Wednesday, incoming Senate President Kevin Meyer, from the Anchorage Hillside, said Sen. Peter Micciche of Soldotna had gotten the transportation chair.

The spokeswoman for the coalition, Carolyn Kuckertz, said nothing was final yet, and that new members could still be brought in.

Hoffman broke ranks with Native Democrats in the general election and endorsed Republican Dan Sullivan for U.S. Senate over incumbent Democrat Mark Begich.

Hoffman will get a majority caucus seat on the Senate Finance Committee. If the past is any indication, Olson will get the minority seat on the committee if he sticks with the Democrats.

The finance committees of the House and Senate develop the state's budgets, so seats there -- and the ability to dole out pork to home districts -- are always at a premium.

Senate Republicans gained a seat in Tuesday's election, bringing their strength to 14. The incoming members are Mia Costello of Anchorage and Bill Stoltze of Chugiak, both jumping from the House. They filled the spots of two senators who decided against standing for re-election -- Fred Dyson of Eagle River, who was redistricted into the same district as Republican Anna Fairclough, and Democrat Hollis French, who ran for lieutenant governor before dropping out of the race to accommodate the "unity ticket" of Bill Walker and Byron Mallott.

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