—Posted by Matt Buxton, staff writer
Update: Late this afternoon, Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, also announced he will join the majority. He’s the final Republican to do so and will serve as Chair of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee.
The newly announced Senate Republican Majority is now up to 12 members on the announcement that Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, will join the group.
Stevens, who served as President of the now-demolished bipartisan-controlled Senate, was one of two notable absences when the new majority was announced in Anchorage, less than 24 hours after a number of Democrats had been defeated.
According to a press release this afternoon, Stevens will serve as Chair as the Senate’s Education Committee. Senator Stevens will also serve as a member of the Legislative Council and as Chair of the World Trade Committee.
Stevens had been one of the strongest public faces of the Senate Bipartisan Working Group, a super majority of 10 Democrats and 6 Republicans, and it was unclear how a Republican Majority would welcome him.
The chairmanship of the Education Committee is a far cry from being Senate President, but it’s an important committee, which was formerly co-held by Fairbanks Sen. Joe Thomas, who was defeated by Sen. John Coghill on Tuesday.
In the same press release, newly minted Senate President Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, commended Stevens for his leadership over the past four years, continuing to paint a picture of an all-Alaska Senate.
“I am very pleased that Senator Stevens is joining the Senate Majority,” Huggins said. “His leadership of the Senate over the past four years has been outstanding and his expertise will not only benefit this group, but also the rest of the state during this critical point in shaping Alaska’s future.”
The last Republican who has yet to say if he’ll join the majority is Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka. Like Stevens, Stedman held a position of power in the bipartisan coalition and had brought home huge capital project dollars as the co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
However, these announcements appear to be coming as quickly as they the decisions are made, so don’t be surprised if we hear about his allegiance—or the allegiance Bush Democrats for that matter—before soon.