After Tuesday’s election, newly elected legislators will immediately gather to hold their own elections. For those elected to the Alaska House of Representatives, the first election will be for the Speaker of the House.
This year, the Speaker of the House was a Democrat whose agenda included a state income tax, increases in state government spending, and continued state subsidizing of the abortion industry.
Think of it like electing a president for all 40 members of the House of Representatives. Once elected, the Speaker of the House will drive the legislative agenda for the next two years.
There are three candidates in my race for the state house, with three very different approaches to choosing the Speaker of the House:
My first opponent is from Houston, and I have every reason to believe that she would not be caught dead voting for a Republican for Speaker of the House.
For my own part, voting for the current Democrat Speaker was a non-starter for me as well. My values are irreconcilable with an agenda that includes an income tax, increased government spending, and abortion subsidies. The differences are just too great. One thing I do know, if I am elected on Tuesday, I will not be voting for any of the Democrat candidates currently running to be Speaker of the House.
My second opponent has taken a different approach. To those in the liberal portion of the district (Talkeetna), he has said that he will join a Democrat Majority, and to those in the conservative portion of the district (Wasilla), he has said that he will join a Republican Majority.
Some have found these statements contradictory.
However, the common thread is that my opponent is committed to voting with the majority for whomever is going to win the election for Speaker.
Of course, if a majority of Democrats are elected on Tuesday, they can be expected to elect a Democrat Speaker, and if Republicans win a majority on Election Day (and we don’t see a repeat of last year’s defections to the Democrat Majority), then you can bet they will elect a Republican Speaker.
When asked about joining the Democrat Caucus, my opponent went on to make this further statement: “—I will join the caucus. It’s to the advantage of the representative from any district.”
With respect, I submit that those who have accused my opponent of lying are missing the point.
He has said that he will join the majority, and he has said that it would be to his advantage to do so. And of course, he is exactly right. It is to his personal advantage to align himself with the majority, regardless of which party comes to power on Tuesday.
This fact has not been lost on either me or on my Democrat opponent. And yet, I have every reason to believe that she would still choose to remain a Democrat even if the Democrats do not prevail on Tuesday, just as I would still choose to remain a Republican if the Democrats were to prevail. I applaud my Democrat opponent for remaining true to her progressive values.
Yes, it would be to the personal advantage of any legislator to decide in advance to join with whichever party is in power, but this entirely ignores whether their joining that party would be to the advantage of the people that legislator represents. If a legislator believes that a progressive agenda will best serve their constituents, then it makes perfect sense to join a caucus of progressive Democrats. If, on the other hand, a legislator believes that a conservative agenda will best serve their constituents, then it makes perfect sense to join a caucus of conservative Republicans.
And therein lies the difference between the three of us.
One of us aligns with conservative values.
One of us aligns with progressive values.
And one of us recognizes that it is to his personal benefit to be flexible.