Current Alaska Speaker of the House Mike Chenault is “leaning” towards going for his fourth term as speaker, he said. If a majority of his caucus decides to support him again in November, shortly after the general election, it will make him the longest serving speaker in the state’s history. He’s survived for so long because he’s cunning, wily and from most accounts, he’s done a good job of keeping things moving and keeping his members relatively content. As content, that is, as 30 power-hungry politicians can be.
But Anchorage Rep. Craig Johnson, who’s been in the House since 2006 and is currently Rules Chair, thinks it’s time for a change. Johnson said in an interview on Thursday night that if he wins his House seat in November—which is likely—he’ll also be vying to be speaker. He’s been Continue reading
When Alaska state House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt traveled to Washington D.C. with a group of lawmakers from across the country, he had no idea that he would get into a high-profile spat with Sally Jewell, the secretary of the Interior Department, the federal agency that is basically the landlord to more than 60 percent of Alaska’s land.
“I never intended to get in any kind of war with a cabinet secretary,” Pruitt, who’s known for being cautious and even tempered, said in an interview on Saturday.
Ostensibly, the “war” is over whether or not Jewell said that she wished Alaska would “get over” pushing to get a gravel, potentially life-saving road through a slice of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge on Alaska’s Aleutian chain. Pruitt said that was Jewell’s response after he asked her about the road during a White House meeting. According to Pruitt, Jewell said that there were more important things to focus on in the state, like drilling in the Arctic Ocean and in NPR-A.
Pruitt said that Jewell said, “I wish Alaskans would get over this one issue.”
A spokesperson for the agency categorically denied the statement. Continue reading
Among a crowd of lawmakers from across the country at the White House on Friday, Alaska state House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt asked Interior Secretary Sally Jewell about her decision to continue to bar a potentially life-saving road through a federal wildlife refuge in Southeast Alaska.
He was shocked by her response.
“I wish that Alaskans would get over it,” Jewell said, according to Pruitt, who wrote down the quote, referring to the long-fought-for road from King Cove to Cold Bay. Pruitt said she talked about other issues that she felt were “more important” than the road, like opening up lands for oil development in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, and offshore drilling in the Arctic.
“Do you know how you feel when you get punched in the gut? That’s how I felt,” Pruitt said in a phone interview on Friday. “What she basically said is that drilling is more important than saving lives.”
Other lawmakers in the room approached Pruitt after the meeting, describing Jewell’s reaction as “arrogant.” Continue reading
Both 32-year-old House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, and 25-year-old Rep. Jonathon Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, made the Washington Post list of 40 people across the country who are under 40 years old and have made a name for themselves in politics outside of the Beltway. Following is the write-up on both. (Visit the Post website site for neat graphics and a photo of each.) The Washington Post said that it consulted more than 100 sources to come up with the names.
First elected to the Alaska legislature in 2010 at age 29, Pruitt became House majority leader just two years later. As others on this list show, that kind of quick rise isn’t unheard of in states with term limits, but Alaska doesn’t have any — making the accomplishment more impressive. He passed on a run for lieutenant governor this year, but Alaska Republicans expect him to be on the statewide ballot soon enough.
Kreiss-Tomkins was elected to the Alaska legislature in 2012, defeating powerful House Finance Chairman Bill Thomas (R) by a mere 32 votes. He did so in a district that requires a candidate to do plenty of island-hopping to introduce himself, and Kreiss-Tomkins would often sleep on someone’s couch while awaiting a trip to the next round of glad-handing. And now that he’s in the Alaska House, Kreiss-Tomkins is already making a name for himself, recently spearheading a successful effort to recognize 20 Alaska Native languages as official state languages.