Senate District M and the proxy PFD battle

Laddie Shaw at an interview with KTUU on Sept. 19, 2019.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The governor has six days to make an appointment to Senate District M, a South Anchorage seat that has become a proxy battle over the Permanent Fund dividend.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans rejected Rep. Laddie Shaw, R-Anchorage, with a 6-6 vote of members. A clear majority is needed to confirm a candidate.

Shaw said that questions from senators focused on the PFD and his support of a full $3,000 dividend. “That was quite an extensive concern of theirs,” he said after being questioned by the senators.

The vote, like support for a full PFD in the Senate, was split right down the middle.

According to Shaw, the questions did veer into the personal. He says that Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, asked him: “As a veteran, do you look down on those who haven’t served?”

“I have to tell you, I took a deep breath on that one,” said Shaw, a former Navy SEAL and Vietnam veteran. “I was hurt by it because no, I do not look down on anyone for any reason, let alone if they haven’t served.”

Despite being a secret ballot, five of six senators who voted for Shaw quickly took to social media to signal their support. A sixth wrote a letter to his colleagues before the vote, saying he would vote for Shaw.

On Friday, Giessel sent a letter to the governor confirming that Shaw had not received the required votes. “I request that you appoint another qualified person for the Senate Republicans’ consideration by September 29, 2019, as required by AS 15.40.350,” read the letter.

Some have floated the idea that the governor could simply resubmit Shaw’s name so that Senate Republicans would be forced to reconsider him. The governor did not dismiss that idea during a Monday morning interview on the Michael Dukes Show and he said his office was seeing if it was possible.

The statute relating to what should happen if one of the governor’s appointments to a vacant seat is rejected could impede that appointment. The language reads that the governor “shall appoint another qualified person”

Matt Shuckerow, the governor’s press secretary, sent a statement on behalf of Dunleavy, writing that the governor would make an announcement by the Sunday deadline.

“The Governor is exploring all available options to fill this vacancy with the best candidate for the district,” Shuckerow wrote. “Governor Dunleavy will be making an announcement in the timeframe outlined by law.”

KTUU reached out to Senate President Cathy Giessel for an on-camera interview, but she was unavailable due to other commitments.

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