JUNEAU - When the 28th Legislature gavels in Tuesday, there will be one more House Republican than was elected in November.
Representative Lindsey Holmes’ political conversion is the talk of the Capitol.
West Anchorage Representative Lindsey Holmes is now an ex-Democrat.
She not only joined the Republican-led majority, which several Bush Democrats have done, but she formally changed her party affiliation – believed to be the first time that has happened with a sitting legislator in Alaska since the 1990s.
Holmes said it was while preparing for the legislative session in recent weeks that she came to the realization that her interest in economic development issues would bear more fruit in the House Republican caucus.
“As I was thinking through the upcoming session and I was thinking through the issues, and I was thinking through how I fit in and where I most aligned on the issues that I thought were most important, which revolve around economic development, I thought the best alignment was not just with the majority caucus but was within elements of the Republican party,” Holmes said.
She said changing parties was her own idea and not part of any deal with the Republican leadership.
And while the conversion cost Democrats one seat on the House Finance Committee, which the Republican caucus gave to her, Speaker Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) said that was a separate decision.
Chenault said Holmes’ only commitments are to uphold his procedural rulings and to vote for the majority-crafted state budget on the House floor. “At the end of the day, you know, and through the process, you can make any change that is possible, that you can get through, at the end of the day you’ll vote for the budget.”
“I want to be clear: I have not changed on the issues,” Holmes said. “And I want to be very reassuring. I have not changed on the issues. I have not become a different person than I was when I went door to door in the fall.”
Meanwhile, House Democratic leader Beth Kerttula (D-Juneau) downplayed Holmes’ defection. “You know, Lindsey, Representative Holmes, has made her own decision. And our caucus is hitting the ground running on Tuesday. We’ve got four new members with great energy; we’ve got six returning legislators with a lot of experience and commitment to this state.”
It’s a new session, and a new chapter for Lindsey Holmes.
Holmes says if she runs for re-election in 2014, it will be as a Republican.