Rep. Tilton named Rules chair as House organizes around narrow majority

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - 15:42
  • Cathy Tilton of Wasilla was named Rules Committee chair and Dave Talerico of Healy was named Speaker of the House by the newly formed House majority caucus during a press conference Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Rep. Cathy Tilton will be named to a key leadership position in the newly formed Alaska State House majority caucus.

Pending certification of Tuesday’s election, Tilton (R-Chugiak/Wasilla) will serve as the Rules Committee chair for the 21-member, all-Republican caucus, which was announced at a Wednesday press conference.

On Tuesday, Tilton easily won re-election to her seat with nearly three-quarters of all votes cast in her district.

Tilton did not speak during the brief press conference, during which Rep. Chuck Kopp (R-Anchorage) was announced as majority leader, Anchorage Rep. Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage) and Rep. Tammie Wilson (R-Fairbanks) were named co-chairs of the Finance Committee; and Rep. Dave Talerico (R-Healy) was announced as the incoming Speaker of the House.

Talerico said other leadership positions had yet to be decided upon at Wednesday’s brief event at the Associated General Contractors building in South Anchorage.

“We’re in the process right now of structuring ourselves,” Talerico said.

Also joining the caucus will be Eagle River’s Nancy Dahlstrom (District 13) and Kelly Merrick (District 14), who each won their House races Tuesday but have yet to take office.

The election has yet to be certified, and in a statement issued shortly after the press conference, current House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham) said it’s “premature” for Republicans to be organizing before all votes have been counted.

As of Wednesday, Republican Bart LeBon led Democrat Kathryn Dodge by 79 votes in the race for the open District 1 seat in Fairbanks.

“With one House race hanging in the balance, the outcome could easily be a 20-20 split,” Edgmon wrote. “…As we await the counting of hundreds of outstanding ballots, the Alaska House Majority Coalition is focusing on assembling priorities and concerns for the upcoming legislative sesson.”

When pressed about whether the caucus would be binding or nonbinding, Talerico said that has yet to be determined.

“What we are right now is a caucus in construction,” he said.

No Democrats joined the caucus, and two Republicans — Anchorage Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux and Kodiak Rep. Louise Stutes have not joined. Stutes and LeDoux are members of the current majority coalition caucus made up of Democrats, independents and Republicans.

Talerico said Stutes was invited to join, but he hadn’t yet heard back from her.

LeDoux wasn’t invited.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected]

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