Parnell to Choose New Dem Rep.
Beth Kerttula, Democratic House Minority Leader from Juneau, has stepped down to accepted a position as a visiting fellow at the Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford, which began Feb. 3, leaving a hole in the legislature.
Last time something like this happened, it was Sen. Kim Elton of Juneau who departed to take a new job in Washington D.C. That move set off a Kavalcade of Krazy™ in which then Governor Sarah Palin attempted to install a Republican who “didnt realize he was a Republican” ‘to fill the Democratic seat. Then a Democrat who’d just become a Democrat weeks before gave it a shot. Then the first guy again. Once she realized that no matter how much she stomped her feet, and how many crayons she broke, and how long she held her breath, she wasn’t going to get her way, she relented.
The Dems put forth Dennis Egan who was selected, and is now the Senator from Juneau, albeit not as progressive or dyed-in-the-wool blue as his city is capable of electing. *See vote on cruise ship dumping in his own back yard, which was great for the cruise industry, but constituents? Not so much.
So, here we are again. Juneau Democrats, headed up by former Mayor Bruce Botelho, have selected three people from nine who applied for the position. These three will be forwarded to Gov. Sean Parnell who, in the next 30 days, must pick one of them to fill Kerttula’s chair.
Those under consideration are Jesse Kiehl, the popular Juneau Assemblyman, and aide to the aforementioned Senator Egan, Catherine Reardon, former Vice Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party and aide to Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anch); and one Sam Kito III – a lobbyist (working for his father Sam Kito, also a long-time lobbyist who represents the Alaska Cruise Association) who has donated thousands of dollars to Republican candidates in the past. The recipients of Kito’s donations include ConocoPhilipps employee and State Senator Kevin Meyer, ethics-challenged and now deposed Rep. Bill Thomas of Haines, Head of the Republican-dominated Redistricting disaster John Torgerson, and South Anchorage Rep. Mike Hawker.
Check them out for yourself:
A cynical person might wonder how this name got on the list. And a cynical person might also speculate that of these three nominees, one in particular might tickle the fancy of the governor. That, of course, depends on whether Parnell for some reason thinks he’d get heat for doing it from the few real Democrats remaining. Or if he cares. We certainly know, “What Would Sarah Do?”
Many Juneau Dems are sorely unhappy that Kito ended up in the mix courtesy of Botelho. The watering down of the Juneau Dems, first with Egan, and now potentially again doesn’t sit well with those who have seen the likes of Lindsey Holmes (D—>R) jump ship, and now witness arguably the most progressive stronghold in the state become a breeding ground for Democrats of a more centrist bent than their constituents.