Alaska Lawmaker Switches Parties, Joins House Majority Caucus
Representative Lindsey Holmes changes party from Democrat to Republican
FAIRBANKS - With just a few days before the Legislature gavels in, an Anchorage Democrat’s switch to the Republican Party could mean big change for Fairbanks.
Rep. Lindsey Holmes announced Saturday night that she left Democrats to join the Republican-led House Majority, a move that reduces the number of Democrats in the House and cuts the party’s representation on the powerful House Finance Committee.
The November elections put 11 members in the House Democratic Caucus, giving it three seats on the budget-setting Finance Committee. Two Fairbanks-area Democrats, Reps. Scott Kawasaki and David Guttenberg, had been named as committee members along with Anchorage Rep. Les Gara.
Now that Democratic Caucus membership sits at 10, it is only entitled to two seats on the 11-member committee. Kawasaki is the most junior of the three members.
However, Holmes’ jump, which means she’ll take a seat on the Finance Committee, doesn’t necessarily mean Kawasaki will lose his seat.
House Democratic press secretary Mark Gnadt said the caucus will meet to reorganize before the start of the session Tuesday.
Kawasaki did not have a comment on the change as of press time.
Holmes said the move would allow her to better serve her district.
“Working as a member of the majority is the best way to move Alaska forward on many important issues,” Holmes said in a press release. “I look forward to strengthening and continuing to build my working relationships with other members of the House Majority.”
Holmes had been elected by a more than 10-point margin in November.
Alaska Democratic Party Chair-elect Mike Wenstrup criticized Holmes’ move.
“Rep. Holmes has deceived the voters of her district. She should have been honest about her intentions. If she intended to serve as a Republican, she should have run as a Republican,” Wenstrup said.
“During this past election cycle, she repeatedly reaffirmed her stances on core Democratic values that run counter to Republican positions she now claims to hold,” he said. “Alaska continues to need public servants who stand by their principles, not politicians who put their own careers ahead of Alaska.”