FAIRBANKS - The newly announced Republican Senate majority is now up to 13 members, with the addition of Sens. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, and Bert Stedman, R-Sitka.
Stevens, who serves as president of the soon-to-be demolished bipartisan group that controls the Senate, and Stedman, the co-chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, were two notable absences when the new majority was announced in Anchorage on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after a number of Democrats had been defeated.
According to news releases, Stevens will serve as chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Stevens also will serve as a member of the Legislative Council and as chairman of the World Trade Committee.
Stevens has 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. It’s currently led by Fairbanks Sen. Joe Thomas, who was defeated by Sen. John Coghill on Tuesday.
In the same press release, Senate President-elect Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, commended Stevens for his leadership during the past four years.
“I am very pleased that Sen. 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.”
Stedman was the last member to join the majority, according to a press release late on Thursday afternoon. Like Stevens, Stedman held a position of power in the bipartisan coalition and had brought home huge capital project dollars as the co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
In the new organization, Stedman will serve as the chairman of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee.
“After serving for six years as the co-chair for the Senate Finance Committee, I look forward to this opportunity to broaden my horizons and work on issues that will benefit all Alaskans,” Stedman said.
The final announcement shores up the Republican-controlled Senate majority. All three Fairbanks senators have joined the group. It’s unclear whether or not Bush Democrats, such as Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, or Donny Olson, D-Golovin, will join the Republican majority. They have in the past.
Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 or follow him on Twitter: