Leaderless House on track to break 37-year record

Leaderless House on track to break 37-year record

Given Monday’s drama, organization is unlikely.

  • By Kevin Baird Juneau Empire
  • Friday, February 8, 2019 2:49pm
  • News

Healy Republican Rep. Dave Talerico’s nomination for House Speaker failed with a 20-20 vote on Monday afternoon, the 21st day of session. This broke a two-week streak of uneventful House floor sessions.

The House remains adjourned until 10 a.m. Tuesday. If the House is not organized with a speaker Tuesday, it will tie a record for the longest the House has gone without organization. The record of 22 days was set in 1981.

Given Monday’s drama, organization is unlikely.

It started when Wasilla Republican Rep. David Eastman nominated Reps. Talerico and Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, to be Speaker of the House. Talerico was prematurely tagged by House Republicans to be Speaker of the House in November, before a majority was clear. Edgmon was speaker during the last legislative session, and has been the de-facto leader of the mostly Democratic House Coalition this year.

Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, responded to this with a point of order, saying that Eastman could not submit two nominations per Mason’s Rules. Mason’s Rules dictate procedure and are commonly used by government bodies. Speaker Pro Tempore Neal Foster then overruled Eastman’s nominations.

After a brief at-ease, Eastman resubmitted a nomination for Talerico.

Tuck submitted Edgmon’s name for speaker nomination, but he rescinded that nomination almost immediately.

Three Republicans spoke in favor of nominating Talerico including Sharon Jackson, R-Anchorage.

“I would like to move forward in having a speaker today,” Jackson said. “This is not about 40 people today. It’s about 700,000 residents of the state of Alaska that are waiting for us to get to work.”

Eastman reminded the House that Tuesday is the record of 22 days without organization and the House is on track to break that record.

Alaska court upholds Republican recount win in House race

“It’s very difficult under our current rules, in fact impossible under our current rules to move forward with the business of the House without electing a speaker,” Eastman said.

Rep. Garen Tarr, D-Anchorage, objected to a vote for Talerico.

“I wanted to rise in objection to the nomination today and express my deep disappointment with these continuing stunts,” Tarr said in reference to Eastman submitting nominations. She said these “surprise incidents” break the trust that has been built while they are negotiating.

Tarr noted there are 20 members of the House in the GOP caucus, 19 for the House Coalition caucus and one undecided.

That undecided member spoke out too.

“In regards to the nominee, he’s a fine gentleman to be a perfect speaker,” Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai, said of Talerico. But he said he would not be voting in favor of Talerico that day.

“Other members of spoken about the need to get organized and represent our people. They lose sight of the fact they must organize the House in a manner that has potential for success and we haven’t done that yet.”

Talerico’s nomination was shut down with a 20-20 split. Three Republicans — Knopp, plus Reps. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak and Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage — voted ‘Nay.’

• Contact reporter Kevin Baird at 523-2258 or kbaird@juneauempire.com.

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