No vote yet on filling Dunleavy’s vacant Senate seat
Senate Republicans will vote on Gov. Bill Walker’s recommendation for Sen. Mike Dunleavy’s vacant seat, “very early this week,” said Senate President Pete Kelly.
Last week, Walker forwarded Randall Kowalke’s name to the Senate Republicans for consideration.
But, it was not among the three names the Republican Party sent to Walker on behalf of the Mat-Su district.
“The Mat-Su held a very public process to come up with those names and the governor ignored him,” Kelly said in the Senate Majority’s weekly news conference. “I’m not even going to criticize him for that. He has the right. He followed the process. Now, it’s in our court.”
Kelly didn’t offer a specific timetable on the pending vote, and the Senate is under no deadline to vote, according to state law.
Dunleavy stepped down last month to focus on his campaign for governor, so his district has been without representation all session, which enters its thirtieth day Wednesday.
Kowalke is a Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assemblymen whose local district includes communities of Meadow Lakes, Talkeetna, Trapper Creek, and his hometown, Willow.
“I want to work with them,” Kowalke said of the Senate Republicans. “I want to work with the constituents and to work for the state. I think it’s critical that we work, that we don’t go to Juneau to fight, just that we work.
“My concern outside of this is if the Senate were to turn this down that the length of time where there isn’t a senator for District E is problematic. It’s a big concern for me.”
On Friday, push back was swift from some Republicans and members of the Senate who believe Walker ignored the will of those represented.
“People are calling me and telling me that I need to do the right thing for the party by withdrawing my name,” Kowalke said. “I’m trying to figure out how that’s the right thing for the party. More so, I’m trying to figure out how this is the right thing for the district.”
Should the Senate Republicans reject Kowalke, Walker would have 10 days to submit another recommendation.
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