Ten state lawmakers — including two moderate Republicans — say they won’t aid Republicans in taking control of Alaska’s narrowly divided House of Representatives.
“It is our goal to be part of a strong, hard-working majority whose highest priorities are the prosperity, safety, health and well-being of the people of Alaska,” reads the two-page written statement released Dec. 21.
The 10 House members are mostly Democrats, two moderate Republicans and an independent from mostly coastal, rural districts.
With more conservative constituencies, they were seen as the most likely to caucus with Republicans.
“We felt it important to let folks know that there weren’t going to be any small group break-offs or anything like that,” said Rep. Dan Ortiz, an independent from Ketchikan.
The GOP has the largest bloc but several moderates that support a bipartisan coalition prevent the party from controlling the chamber.
One of those is Rep. Louise Stutes. She’s a Kodiak lawmaker and one of three Republicans that caucused with Democrats and independents last year.
She said since the election she and others have been clear they aren’t interested in a Republican-led caucus.
“Somehow the message didn’t get through,” Stutes said. “So we thought that by putting it clearly in writing, that they would understand that we in fact are not going to be joining their caucus but we are hopeful that we can get reasonable people together in the form of a coalition to work for the good of the state.”
The statement argues for a bipartisan coalition committed to a balanced budget and protecting the permanent fund and annual dividend check.
The joint-statement increases uncertainty over how House lawmakers will organize themselves when the legislative session begins January 15.