Elections over: House, Senate organize

The 2016 election is over, with results that stunned the nation. We’ll comment separately on how the national changes will affect Alaska, but we can’t resist passing on a report from Politico that Donald Trump may consider Sarah Palin for Secretary of the Interior. Alaska went Republican as expected, heavily favoring Trump. Lisa Murkowski and Don Young were returned to the U.S. Senate and U.S. House. All of the 40 members of the state House were up for reelection as were 10 members of the 20-member state Senate. Republican incumbents in two high-profile state senate races, John Coghill in Fairbanks and Cathy Giessel in Anchorage, retained their seats after spirited challenges by Luke Hopkins against Coghill and Vince Beltrami against Giessel. The results confirm that the Senate will retain its heavily Republican majority.

It’s  different story for the state House, where three Republicans and two independents joined 17 newly-elected Democrats to form a coalition organization, the first in years for the House. Rep. Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham will be Speaker, replacing Rep. Mike Chenault, the current Speaker. Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, will hold a key leadership job as chair of the House Rules Committee, while Anchorage Democratic Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorsage, the former minority leader, will be majority leader. The Finance cochairs will be Reps. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, and Neal Foster, D-Nome. Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, was named majority whip.