Rep. Stutes to Serve as Whip in New Bipartisan House Majority

louise-stutes-2016.jpgKodiak District 32 incumbent Representative Louise Stutes, a Republican, will once again serve in the House Legislative Majority when she returns to Juneau in January.

But it will be a very different Majority than the one that adjourned last session. Out is long-time Republican House Speaker Mike Chenault of Nikiski, and in his place will be installed Representative Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham, a Democrat.

Though he is a Democrat, Edgmon has long caucused with the Republican majorities he has served with. This bipartisan majority, however, is different, in that it has Democrats in the leadership; other than Edgmon, Reps. Chris Tuck and Les Gara of Anchorage, and Neal Foster of Nome all have leadership positions. Tuck will be Majority Leader. Foster, along with Homer Republican Paul Seaton are co-chairs of Finance, and Gara will be Vice-Chair of Finance.

Kodiak Representative Stutes will serve as the House Majority Whip, and one-time Kodiak Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, also a Republican, will chair the Rules Committee.

Meanwhile, just a few changes dot the Alaska Senate Majority Leadership. However, Kodiak Senator Gary Stevens has a new assignment as chair of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee.

Stevens was returned to Juneau with 97 percent of the vote, running largely unopposed. He gathered 9,461 of the 9,785 ballots cast.

Stutes’ election race is much closer, with only 98 votes separating her from her closest opponent, Duncan Fields. Stutes has 2,239 votes, or 43.3 percent of the votes, while the unaffiliated Fields garnered 2,141, or 41.4 percent. Democrat Brent Watkins received 782 votes, equal to 15.12 percent of the vote. House District 32 includes the Kodiak Island Borough, south Kachemak Bay, Cordova and Yakutat.

In the district as a whole, 41.24 percent of the electorate cast a ballot.

Of the races on the larger stage, District 32 voted with the nation for President-elect Trump by nearly 700 votes, 2,697 to 1,914. In the U.S. Senate race, Lisa Murkowski won every precinct in the district, though some were close. She received 2,468 votes from District 32, while Joe Miller had 1,359, Margaret Stock, 821, and Ray Metcalfe 468. Rep. Don Young won our district by about 850 votes, 2,625 to 1,786 over Democrat Steve Lindbeck. District residents favored Ballot Measure 1, voter registration through the PFD application, by a 2-to-1 margin, and were 150 votes to the No side on Ballot Measure 2, floating bonds to pay for student loans.

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