Dunleavy gets list of 3 potential Sen. Birch successors from GOP
A sitting lawmaker, a former senator and a former House candidate have made the final cut to succeed the late Sen. Chris Birch.
The Alaska Republican Party selected House Rep. Laddie Shaw, former Sen. Dave Donley, who also serves on the Dunleavy administration, and Albert Fogle, who lost to Shaw in last year’s primary.
In a letter, party chairman Glenn Clary forwarded the three names to Gov. Mike Dunleavy for his consideration late Wednesday night.
They emerged from a field of eight candidates who applied for the position. Party representatives from the two House districts that lie within Birch’s South Anchorage Senate districts narrowed it to three.
Clary said the committees from each House district met with each applicant before voting and turning the names over to him for referral.
Dunleavy has until Sept. 7 to choose from the list. He will then nominate one of the three, leaving the final step to the 12 Senate Republicans.
Dunleavy can seek other names.
Historically governors have occasionally either worked off a different list or sought another set of names, sometimes creating a messy process.
Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow says the governor plans to interview all three candidates Tuesday, with hopes of making a nomination by the end of the month.
He said the governor will consider numerous criteria including: history and involvement with the district, civic engagement, views on government spending, economic development and the Permanent Fund dividend.
Birch did not agree with Dunleavy’s position on the PFD, which was a payout reflecting the statutory formula. He said a smaller dividend along with funding certain essential services was more fiscally prudent. Having a successor who supports the larger dividend could bring Dunleavy closer to getting the support he needs.
Last year Gov. Bill Walker, I-Alaska, found himself at odds with Senate Republicans over candidates to succeed Dunleavy, who resigned to focus on his campaign.
Two sides eventually agreed on Mike Shower, who won his own term last November, but that was after a prolonged, high-profile battle with Republicans.
Walker did not select from the original submitted list that included current House Rep. George Rauscher of Sutton.
What ensued quickly became a fight that began with Walker appointing Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly Member Randall Kowalke, who was not on the list.
Senate Republicans pushed back by rejecting Kowalke, saying Walker needed to work from a list from the party.
Walker then worked off a list by selecting Thomas Braund, of Sutton, but hours after the appointment, controversial social media posts emerged and Braund removed his name.
Walker then nominated Shower.
“In the past, it’s been a little volatile,” Clary said. “We wanted to take that away, so we established policy and procedures for doing this in civil manner.”
In 2009, Democrats forwarded one name rather than three — House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula — to Gov. Sarah Palin to succeed Kim Elton, who accepted a post with the Obama administration.
Palin denied the nomination and it took until the last day of the legislative session for Palin and Democrats to agree on Dennis Egan, who went on to serve eight more years.
Others interested in succeeding Birch include House Rep. Josh Revak, Birch’s daughter Tali Birch Kindred and Beans Café Executive Director Lisa Sauder.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comment from Gov. Dunleavy's office.
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