The Alaska House of Representatives still does not have a working majority, leaving it unable to elect a permanent speaker, conduct legislative business, or appoint members to standing committees. The House has been deadlocked since the session began on January 15. If it does not establish a majority by February 6, it will pass the current record for length of time without a majority: 22 days, set in 1981.
In the most recent attempt to organize a majority on January 22, the House voted down Republican leader David Talerico’s bid for the speakership by a 20-20 margin. The 23 House Republicans split 20-3. Republican Reps. Gary Knopp, Louise Stutes, and Gabrielle LeDoux voted against Talerico alongside the 16 House Democrats and independent Daniel Ortiz.
Knopp said he would not support Talerico or Rep. Bryce Edgmon, the Democratic speaker from 2017 to 2018, and is working to form a bipartisan coalition. Stutes and LeDoux caucused with the Edgmon-led coalition after the 2016 elections and have stated that they intend to caucus with a bipartisan majority again.
Here are statements from members of the House on why the deadlock has continued. The quotes were first reported by James Brooks of the Anchorage Daily News on January 29.
- Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D): “It’s not issues that are separating us. At this point, I think it’s more party politics.”
- Rep. David Talerico (R): “I’m assuming that it’ll have to be a mixed group [of Democrats and Republicans] at some point…I’ve been asked a few times which day I think it will be. Well, I wish it was yesterday.”
- Rep. Andy Josephson (D): “Because Gov. Dunleavy is believed to be a budget hawk, and has opposed new revenue concepts, it’s actually made us more cohesive as a group of 19 because I think there’s a belief there has to be some counterweight vis-a-vis that philosophy.”
- Rep. Gary Knopp (R) on why Republicans had not joined a coalition: “I think the new candidates, the freshmen, and some of the incumbents are scared of the direction the party’s taken in the last few years.” (Knopp was specifically referring to the Alaska Republican Party running primary challenges against members who defected after the 2016 elections)
- Rep. Mark Neuman (R): Paraphrased by Brooks, Neuman said a change in the Democratic and Republican leadership could offer a path forward. He also said he was concerned that members were paying too much attention to their constituents on social media when making decisions.