Alaska Supreme Court rules in favor of LeBon (R) in District 1; control of chamber and state trifecta status still unknown

On January 4, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld Bart LeBon’s (R) one-vote victory over Kathryn Dodge (D) in the Alaska House District 1 election.
 
The court affirmed a finding by special master Eric Aarseth that the State Division of Elections acted properly when it held a recount in the race. Dodge had appealed the recount result, arguing that several ballots were improperly counted for LeBon.
 
The conclusion of the legal battle in District 1 means that all 40 seats in the Alaska House have been decided—Republicans won 23, Democrats won 16, and a Democratic-aligned independent won District 36.
 
However, control of the chamber is not yet decided because only 19 Republicans have committed to caucusing together. Here are the four Republicans who have not committed:
 
• Rep. David Eastman (R) said he would likely join with other Republicans, but he might want a more conservative speaker than David Talerico (R), the caucus’ original choice.
• Rep. Gary Knopp (R) originally said he would caucus with the other Republicans, but he left the caucus in mid-December, saying that a one-member majority would be unstable. He announced his intention to form a 24-member bipartisan majority caucus with power sharing between the parties.
• Reps. Louise Stutes (R) and Gabrielle LeDoux (R) caucused with Democrats from 2017 to 2018 and signed onto a letter in late December announcing their intention to join a bipartisan coalition again.
 
If no majority has organized the chamber by January 15, Lieutenant Gov. Kevin Meyer (R) will preside over the chamber (or appoint a speaker pro tempore) until the House decides its organization.
 
If Republicans organize a majority, they will have gained trifecta control of the state in the 2018 elections. If they do not, the state will operate under divided government.
 
The chamber was controlled by a Democratic-led bipartisan majority caucus from 2017 to 2018 even though Republicans won 21 of 40 seats in the 2016 elections.



About the author

Rob Oldham

Rob Oldham is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at rob.oldham@ballotpedia.org

Bitnami