Dunleavy taps Babcock, Huber Sr. as first cabinet appointments
Governor-elect Mike Dunleavy on Thursday began building his administration, starting with the Alaska Republican Party Tuckerman Babcock.
Babcock goes to work immediately as Dunleavy’s transition committee chair, then he becomes the new administration’s chief of staff once Dunleavy gets sworn in on Dec. 3.
The former state senator also tapped Brett Huber Sr. as his senior policy adviser. Huber is readily acquainted with state government, having worked for several state lawmakers, including Dunleavy.
Two days after the election, Dunleavy announced his choices at the Alaska Miners Association convention while promising more appointments in coming days and weeks.
“I’ve known Tuckerman for years,” Dunleavy said after the announcement. “I have a lot of faith in him. He’s got experience. Same with Brett Huber. It’s a great fit for starting off this administration.”
Speaking before a partisan crowd at the Dena’ina Center, Dunleavy doubled down on his campaign promises to advance Alaska’s resource development potential.
“I want to let you know that Alaska is open for business,” he said several times in a raspy voice while fighting back the onset of a cold.
It was his first public speech since becoming governor-elect, allowing Republicans to take back the executive branch after a four-year hiatus with independent Gov. Bill Walker serving.
“It’s going to be my goal that when folks think about where they are going to invest in the future, that Alaska is not a laughing stock, but Alaska is a serious player in this country – in this world,” he said. “The past four years for your industry has been kind of rough. I can assure going forward, there is going to be a lot of excitement in the resource development sector of our state, mining in particular.”
Dunleavy then addressed reporters chatting briefly about several of the high profile campaign issues including:
- His intent to rewrite a sweeping crime bill passed two years ago, though Dunleavy was among those voting against the legislation.
- Advancing a natural gas pipeline project that would market liquefied natural gas to several Asian markets.
- Paying Alaskans a Permanent Fund Dividend that follows a statutory formula rather than a reduced legislative appropriation.
During his campaign, Dunleavy has also talked about restoring the difference between the state formula and what was actually paid each of the last three years. Dividends get paid from the Permanent Fund’s earnings, which sits at $17 billion.
“People should expect that the historical calculation that we’ve done for decades prior to 2016 is going to be their dividend,” Dunleavy said. “I’ve talked to people familiar with the process. The ($17) billion in our ERA allows us to pay back the dividends.
“It’s going to be rolled out pretty quick. Everything we talked about is going to be rolled out pretty quick. That’s the purpose of an election. People in Alaska voted for myself because they believe in what we talked about."
Dunleavy must also roll out budget proposal no later than Dec. 15. Walker’s administration has been working on the fiscal year 2020 budget during the interim.
Just as Walker did when he succeeded Sean Parnell, Dunleavy said the predecessor’s budget will be “a template early on but we are going to have our own modified budget.”
Dunleavy reiterated his promise to continue filling his cabinet with “smart, hard-working people that have the best interest of Alaska at heart, that can work as a team, that can focus on moving this state forward.”
Cabinet members working for the outgoing governor traditionally submit a resignation letter to newly elected, incoming governors, expressing a wish to either move on or remain with the new administration.
Dunleavy said these protocols are underway and did not commit to replacing every member of Walker’s cabinet.
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