Two more votes for Alaska House speaker fall one vote short; deadlock continues

Record-setting deadlock in the Alaska House of Representatives continues as speaker bids by Republican leader David Talerico and Rep. Gary Knopp (R) failed on Tuesday. Twenty-one votes are needed to select a speaker of the house, and both votes were 20-20.

Republicans won 23 of 40 seats in the 2018 elections, but Knopp, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R), and Rep. Louise Stutes (R) have not joined other GOP members in a coalition led by Talerico.

The vote for Talerico as speaker ended in a similar way as three previous votes for him did: 20 Republicans voted yes, and Knopp, LeDoux, and Stutes joined all 16 Democrats and independent Daniel Ortiz voting no.

Knopp had said Monday that he was ready to “be the 21st vote to support a Republican-led coalition or caucus” after his attempts to form a bipartisan coalition with power-sharing between the parties stalled.

Knopp said he had originally intended to vote for Talerico before Stutes suggested that he be nominated as speaker instead. Knopp also said he was bothered by a Facebook comment from Rep. David Eastman (R) on an article about Knopp. In the comment, Eastman discussed the procedures for recalling a state representative from office.

The vote for Knopp as speaker also ended in a 20-20 tie with the 16 Democrats, Stutes, LeDoux, and Ortiz supporting him.

Tuesday was the 28th day of the 90-day legislative session. It is the longest period the chamber has ever gone without a speaker, who is needed to conduct legislative business and appoint standing committees. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) was expected to release a budget Wednesday. On Tuesday night, he called for a Republican-led majority to take control of the House.