Dunleavy taps Revak for Birch's seat, puts off special session call
Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Friday nominated House Rep. Josh Revak, R-Anchorage, to succeed the late Sen. Chris Birch, while delaying any call for a fall special session he pledged to have last month.
Revak, who is out of town, represents a second effort to advance a sitting House member who is a veteran. Last week, 12 Senate Republicans failed to confirm Vietnam veteran House Rep. Laddie Shaw on a 6-6 vote.
Dunleavy strongly linked filling the vacancy to calling a special session on approving a supplemental Permanent Fund dividend, which would be $1,304.
“This [special session] has taken a bit of a back seat to getting an individual to fill that seat,” Dunleavy said in a morning news conference.
In a prepared statement, Senate President Cathy Giessel said “Senate Republicans are determining a time to meet for the consideration of Governor Dunleavy’s appointment to the Senate vacancy.”
Until then, Dunleavy offered no timetable for calling a special session that seemed firm last month when he said he would offer a bill to pay for a supplemental dividend from the fund’s earnings account.
Dunleavy addressed the issue during a 10-minute Facebook Live broadcast Tuesday when he said:
“I will not let up until the remaining funds are appropriated for the full statutory PFD. I know Alaskans understand this decision and I appreciate all of your input.”
On Friday, Dunleavy he didn’t seem as firm on calling the special session while linking a confirmation to a special session.
“We are going to see how this confirmation goes because we want to have a full cadre of 20 senators,” Dunleavy said. “We’re hoping the Senate acts on this sooner [rather than] later. Once that occurs, we’ll be getting back to as when we would call a special session.”
Even if the Senate approves Revak’s nomination to serve District M, that would create another void — Revak’s House seat.
When asked about this scenario and how it aligns with his views on having a “full cadre” of senators, Dunleavy said “we’re going to have to move quickly.”
Dunleavy must give lawmakers 30 days notice for a special session and he’s quickly backing into the Thanksgiving holiday.
“The days are ticking off the calendar but nonetheless we still have some business we feel needs to be settled,” he said. “Again getting the person in place and getting the Senate to have 20 members is going to help with the situation.”
Revak was in Washington D.C. spending time with fellow veterans for a military reunion when he learned of his nomination.
“I was surprised then very humbled,” he said. “I very much look forward to going through the process and speaking with all the senators.”
Like Shaw and Dunleavy, and unlike six Republican senators, Revak has come out supporting a dividend payment that aligns with the statutory formula.
“When we focus on just things where we disagree I think we really do a service to ourselves in terms of all the things we agree on and where we can find common ground,” he said. “I very much look forward to find that common ground.”
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.
MORE NEWS FROM KTVA: