Representative Sara Rasmussen (R – Anchorage) confirmed she left the newly formed 19-member House Republican Minority, leaving them at 18. She has not committed to joining the newly formed 21-member Majority Coalition. Though it’s unlikely she would remain a caucus of one.
Representative Kelly Merrick (R – Eagle River), who cast the tie breaking vote last week to elect Representative Louise Stutes (R – Kodiak) as Speaker of the House, then went dark for the weekend, is now part of the Majority Coalition. Rasmussen and Merrick are good friends, and were spotted heading to lunch earlier today.
The House Republican Minority has not yet responded with a comment about Rasmussen leaving. But sources report that Rasmussen was unhappy that freshman Representative James Kaufman (R – Anchorage) was given a seat on the House Finance Committee over her, as well as the caucus moving too far to the right.
With Rasmusen leaving the 19-member Minority, they go from having five seats on the 11-member Finance Committee to four. The other likely Minority member will be Representatives Ben Carpenter (R – Nikiski), Bart LeBon (R – Fairbanks), and Cathy Tilton (R – Wasilla), who were all members during last legislature (LeBon was a Majority member).
Hearing the minority gave one of their Finance seats to Rep. Kaufman. With Rep. Rasmussen leaving the Republicans, the minority loses a Finance seat (11 member committee). Other minority members are likely Reps. Tilton, LeBon, and Carpenter. #akleg pic.twitter.com/SVX0NUe5fR
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) February 16, 2021
Twenty-one is the bare minimum required to form a majority in the House. This is problematic because any member has a veto, and if a member is missing during an important vote there is no guarantee of 21 votes. Coalition members have been working hard today to pick off House Republicans to grow their majority. It’s not clear if Rasmussen will join the Majority, but it is unlikely she will remain by herself. She is probably negotiating for a leadership position or seat on the Finance Committee.
The House is set to reconvene later today. The Committee on Committees report, which lists leadership positions and committee chairs, will need to be adopted. This requires 21 votes. This is a developing story.