Thirteen Republican senators met today at the Denali Tower in Anchorage to try and organize. Senators Josh Revak (R – Anchorage) and Lora Reinbold (R – Eagle River) called in while the other 11 were in person. All but two are incumbents, Roger Holland and Robb Myers. Holland defeated Senator Cathy Giessel (R – Anchorage) and Robb Myers defeated Senator John Coghill (R – North Pole) in the August Republican primary. Several staffers were also at the meeting.
The meeting wrapped up around 3:45 pm. While things seemed cordial, several senators confirmed that a majority had not been formed. I was posted up in my car most of the day waiting for them to walk out. Interestingly, Senator Natasha von Imhof (R – Anchorage) and Mike Shower (R – Wasilla) had a long one-on-one talk outside. They may be further apart philosophically than any two other Republican senators.
You can see a bunch of pictures and updates on this tweet thread:
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The 13 Republican senators are meeting at the Denali Tower in Anchorage to try and organize a majority. The building is locked down to essential personnel only, so the Landmine can’t get in. However, I’m posted up outside watching the door carefully. #akleg pic.twitter.com/Msj1bIHhO1
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) November 13, 2020
The issue is that to have a majority in the Senate you need 11. While the Republicans technically have 13, they are split on some core issues. These include the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) and the so-called binding caucus. Shower, Reinbold, and Senator Shelley Hughes (R – Palmer), and likely Myers and Holland, are against the binding caucus and all five want a full PFD. With little savings left, the PFD issue is going to be even more difficult next session. Senator Bert Stedman (R – Sitka) has made it clear he will not be in a majority that does not have a binding vote on the final passage of the budget. Senator Lyman Hoffman (D – Bethel), the current Majority Leader in the Republican Senate Majority, was not invited to the meeting. This could come back to bite them if they aren’t able to organize a majority.
It appears that Ballot Measure 2 will pass. If so, this will likely have an impact on the behavior of the more moderate Republican senators. Without the fear of being primaried in 2022, some may be more likely to join some kind of coalition. Will the 13 Republicans be able to come to an agreement and form a majority? My money says that will be very difficult but not impossible. As he was leaving I asked Senator Peter Micciche (R – Soldotna) – who seems to be the one trying to put an organization together – if a majority had formed. He smiled and said, “We had a great meeting.”