House Speaker vote fails to break longstanding deadlock
The House adjourned Tuesday without a speaker and a formal organization — just one day before Gov. Mike Dunleavy will roll out his amended budget.
Rep. Gary Knopp said Monday he planned on breaking the longstanding tie that would have put Rep. Dave Talerico, R-Healy, in the speaker’s chair.
But Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, caught the House by surprise when she nominated Knopp for speaker, creating an unexpected two-ticket vote.
Knopp voted no against Talerico despite saying he would support a Republican nominee just yesterday, leaving the House deadlocked on day 29 of the session.
Addressing his colleagues on the floor, Knopp acknowledged catching people off-guard.
He said the Democratic-led caucus, which features two Republicans and an Independent in its 19-member group, asked if they could nominate him.
“There are concerns in this body of the success of this House regardless of the party affiliation controlling it,” Knopp said in a brief floor speech.
Knopp later said in a briefing with reporters that he would continue to accept future nominations.
“As long as my name is continued to move forward, I will support myself to keep this avenue of conversation open,” he said.
Stutes said on Monday night she approached Knopp on her own then brought the idea to the Democratic-led caucus Tuesday morning before the floor session.
“They were fully supportive because they know Rep. Knopp’s vision; they know his fairness, and they know his interest is moving the state ahead, not making one party or the other happy,” she said. “It’s moving ahead and working across the aisle. I think that’s what it’s going to take to move us forward. To be quite frank with you, I’ll put his name forward again.”
Knopp restated his monthslong position that a 21-member caucus – regardless of which party leads the group – is doomed to fail. This observation prompted him to withdraw from the Republican caucus in December, in hopes that he can help forge a bi-partisan coalition.
“They have been a little bitter since day one when I left the caucus,” he said. “You’ve got some who seem to think I need to be punished. You can’t punish a 21st member.”
The change of heart on the floor left some Republicans angry.
Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, rushed off the House floor, saying: “At the end of the day, you only have your word and your integrity left. I don’t think that’s necessarily true with Rep. Knopp.”
Rep. Mark Neuman, R-Big Lake, stood outside the House chambers saying Knopp broke his word after telling House Republicans he wanted to be part of their caucus on Monday.
“Look at the integrity of the people in this building,” said Neuman, now in his 14th year in office and the senior member of the House. “You wonder why we have trouble organizing.”
The House is scheduled to meet again 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.