House Rep. Laddie Shaw, R-Anchorage, won't be filling the vacant seat of late Sen. Chris Birch after Senate Republicans failed to confirm him for the vacancy Thursday.

Shaw was nominated to fill the seat by Gov. Mike Dunleavy after Birch died suddenly from an aortic dissection in August. On Thursday, Shaw failed to receive the majority vote of approval from Senate Republicans to be confirmed to the seat.

"When a vacancy occurs in the Alaska Legislature, state law requires the governor to appoint a qualified candidate to fill the seat within 30 days," a press release on the decision said. "The appointment is subject to confirmation by a majority of legislators in the same house and of the same political party as the person who left the vacancy."

At least seven Senate Republicans have to agree to the governor's choice. Now, Dunleavy has 10 days to appoint another candidate for the seat.

Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, released the following statement after the vote:

“Today’s vote in no way reflects on the exceptional qualifications of Representative Shaw, a man to whom we all owe much thanks and gratitude for his service to our state and country. Rather, it reflects our commitment to the people of District M and the sanctity of the votes they cast in November.

Senator Chris Birch was one of – if not the – most energetic proponents of updating the dividend formula. He displayed strong leadership during his tenure in the House on reforming the dividend and protecting the Permanent Fund and proudly took the issue directly to voters during the recent election.

The duty of the Senate is to confirm a replacement to District M with deference to the views of the late Senator Birch and, most importantly, those of all the people in the district he served.”

Dunleavy also released a statement, saying there's no question that Shaw is qualified to fill Birch's seat:

“Today, a majority of Senate Republicans failed to confirm Representative Laddie Shaw to fill the vacancy to Senate District M – the seat held by the late Senator Chris Birch. Laddie Shaw is well-qualified, there’s no question. He was overwhelmingly elected into office, his District put his name forward among a group of highly qualified individuals, and he has a history of service as a Navy Seal, as a decorated was veteran, and a public servant. Laddie Shaw was someone well-deserving and qualified of this appointment.

In a statement issued by Senate Republicans, it appears now they are pushing a political litmus test based entirely upon the PFD. Senate District M is more than a single issue district. District M deserves qualified representation based on a wide variety of issues, not just one.

I want to thank Representative Shaw for going through this process and look forward to our continued work together. I now have ten days to fill this vacancy, as prescribed by law, and look forward to updating you again shortly.”

The Alaska Republican Party originally selected Shaw, former Sen. Dave Donley and Albert Fogle as candidates for Birch's seat. Others interested in succeeding Birch included House Rep. Josh Revak, Birch’s daughter Tali Birch Kindred and Beans Café Executive Director Lisa Sauder.

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