Bipartisan coalition ends decade of Republican control over Alaska Senate

Bipartisan coalition ends decade of Republican control over Alaska Senate

Following Wednesday’s tabulation of ranked-choice votes in races where no candidate won a majority on Nov. 8, nine Democrats and eight Republicans in Alaska’s state Senate announced the formation of a bipartisan majority coalition, similar to one that held sway in the chamber from 2007 to 2012. The situation in the House, however, remains uncertain.

The alliance ends a decade of Republican control over the Senate, though GOP Sen. Gary Stevens will hold the top role of president, a position he served in during the last bipartisan coalition. That leaves just three far-right Republicans out in the cold; Stevens said they’ve been “difficult to work with” and specifically cited the fact that they’ve voted against state budgets their own party had crafted. (Members of the majority are required to vote for the budget, a system known as a “binding caucus” whose enforcement is evidently now being given effect.)

The House has likewise been governed by a shifting consortium of Democrats, independents, and Republicans since 2017, but it’s not clear whether such an arrangement will continue. While Republicans lost two seats in the Senate, they retained nominal control of 21 seats in the House—theoretically enough for a bare majority. One of those, however, belongs to House Speaker Louise Stutes, a member of the current coalition, while another is represented by David Eastman, a member of the Oath Keepers who is disliked by many fellow Republicans for his obstructionism.

There are many possible permutations that could result in either side winding up in charge. One big question mark is state Rep. Josiah Patkotak, a conservative independent and coalition member who could potentially join forces with the GOP. Another is the 15th District, where Republican Rep. Tom McKay leads Democrat Denny Wells by just four votes after ranked-choice tabulations; Wells says he will likely seek a recount after results are certified on Tuesday.

Whatever happens, we could be in for a long wait: Following both the 2018 and 2020 elections, alliances in the House weren’t finalized until February, so it wouldn’t be surprise to see a similar delay this time.

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