Senate fails to confirm Rep. Laddie Shaw for vacant seat

Laddie Shaw (Photo from Alaska Legislature)
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - After a closed-door interview at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office Thursday afternoon, Senate Republicans decided to deny the confirmation of District 26 Rep. Laddie Shaw as a replacement to fill the now-vacant seat of the late Sen. Chris Birch.

After being presented with three options, including Republicans Dave Donley and Albert Fogle, Gov. Mike Dunleavy had appointed Rep. Shaw to replace Sen. Birch - who passed away in August - saying he would "be a great fit for District M."

Dunleavy now has 10 days to appoint another qualified person for the role, who will also be subject to confirmation. According to state law, there is no limit on how many times appointees for a legislative seat can be denied.

[RELATED: Dunleavy announces Rep. Laddie Shaw as replacement for Senate Seat M]

"Laddie Shaw is well-qualified, there’s no question," said Gov. Dunleavy in a recorded video statement provided by his office. "He was overwhelmingly elected into office, his district put his name forward among a group of highly qualified individuals, and he has a history of service as a Navy SEAL, as a decorated war veteran, and a public servant. Laddie Shaw was someone well-deserving and qualified of this appointment."

Senate President Cathy Giessel, (R) Anchorage, declined to go on camera following the decision, but said in a written statement disseminated to members of the media that the vote "in no way reflects on the exceptional qualifications of Representative Shaw, a man to whom we all owe much thanks and gratitude for his service to our state and country.

"Rather, it reflects our commitment to the people of District M," she continued, "and the sanctity of the votes they cast in November."

Dunleavy said it appears - according to the statement provided by Senate Republicans - that the group is now "pushing a political litmus test based entirely upon the PFD."

Shaw, upon exiting the meeting room, said he felt as though he was "interviewing for an aerospace job." He also said shortly after his interview but before the final decision that much of the questioning surrounded his extensive support of a $3,000 Permanent Fund dividend.

Shaw is a Navy SEAL who served two tours in Vietnam and worked in public safety for almost 20 years. He is a member of the Alaska House Republicans minority caucus, which largely supported Gov. Dunleavy's budget vetoes, and participated in the controversial special session at Wasilla.

Some House Republicans reacted strongly to Senate Republicans' failure to confirm Shaw Thursday. House Minority members said the "entire caucus is absolutely shocked" about the decision, calling it "unbelievable."

"If Alaskans want to understand why Juneau is so dysfunctional," said House Minority Leader Rep. Lance Pruitt, (R) Anchorage, via a release from the House Minority, "they need to look no further than the actions of the Senate Republicans today in rejecting a decorated war veteran, respected law enforcement leader, and former deputy commissioner -- all because he told them he could think for himself and do what's best for his district."

Chair of the Alaska Republican Party Glenn Clary told Channel 2 via text message Thursday that the party and Gov. Dunleavy completed their responsibilities by submitting nominations and selecting an appointee to be considered for confirmation by Republican senators.

"Ultimately, it was their decision," Clary wrote, "and they made it today. It's clear that a deep divide exists among Republican Senators. The Alaska Republican Party stands ready to facilitate unity and cooperation."

This is a developing story. Please check back for details.

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