The 2014 elections in Alaska didn’t exactly follow national trends. The good news is that 29 winners of NFIB’s Guardian Award for having a 100-percent NFIB voting record will be returning to the Legislature.
House members Bill Stoltze and Mia Costello both won Senate seats to give the Republicans a 14-to-6 majority. Senator-elect Costello is a member of NFIB. Our State Senate has announced its leadership with Sen. Kevin Meyer elected president, Sen. John Coghill majority leader, Sen. Charlie Huggins, Rules Committee chair and Sens. Pete Kelly and Anna Fairclough co-chairmen of the Finance Committee.
The House Republican majority has also chosen its leadership for the 2015-2016 session, as well. Mike Chenault will continue as speaker. He will be joined in leadership by Craig Johnson, Rules Committee chairman; Charisse Millett, majority leader; and Mark Neuman and Steve Thompson as co-chairmen of the Finance Committee.
Unfortunately, we saw the defeat of three House members that received Guardian Awards for having a 100-percent voting record. Reps. Eric Feige and Doug Isaacson lost tough primary battles and Rep. Pete Higgins was defeated in the General Election. These three strong advocates of small business will be missed.
The final make-up of the House and the governor’s race will not be determined until the final absentee and questioned ballots are counted. The first count begins on Tuesday, November 11. Estimates suggest that there are slightly more than 30,000 additional absentee and questioned ballots yet to be counted. In addition to the close governor’s race, where Bill Walker is leading NFIB endorsed Gov. Sean Parnell by 3,165 votes, or 1.41 percent, two house races have razor-thin margins.
In Anchorage District 21, Democrat Matt Claman leads Republican Anand Dubey by 35 votes or 0.51 percent and in Ketchikan District 36, independent Daniel Ortiz leads Republican Chere Klein 19 votes or 0.37 percent. The Republicans will maintain a majority in the House, we just don’t yet know how big it will be.
While not unexpected Alaskan voters did pass an increase in the minimum wage, as did every other state that had it on its ballot. Following our member’s ballot to oppose the initiative, NFIB members signed the opposition statement in the Official Ballot Pamphlet and, along with State Director Denny DeWitt, testified against the measure at the six hearings required to be held by the Lt. Governor.