Senate Republicans welcome Rep. Revak into their ranks, ending showdown with the governor

Rep. Josh Revak escorting U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan to his annual address to the Alaska Legislature. (Photo by Alaska House Majority/Flickr)

Update: We misread the video included in this post. We thought it was from this summer, but another reader pointed out it was from 2013. It shouldn’t carry nearly as much weight considering how old the video is.

Senate Republicans voted on Saturday to confirm Anchorage Republican Rep. Josh Revak to fill the Senate seat held by the late Sen. Chris Birch, ending a showdown between Republican Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy and the Senate Republicans following their initial rejection of the governor’s pick for the seat.

The confirmation required a majority of sitting Republican Senators to support Revak’s nomination. Senate Republicans were split when Dunleavy appointed Rep. Laddie Shaw, R-Anchorage, to the seat earlier this summer. The weekend vote tally was not announced.

Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, indicated in the weeks leading up to the vote that she would support Revak after she had objected to the appointment of Shaw. At the time, she said she wanted to see a candidate that more closely reflected Birch’s politics, particularly when it comes to the size of the dividend.

There’s no indication that Revak is any different than Shaw when it comes to the dividend—both voted in favor of large dividends while Birch argued for some fiscal restraint in setting the size of the dividend—but what is more likely the difference maker was Revak’s efforts to meet individually with senators ahead of the vote.

“Josh knows how to bring folks together, from across the political spectrum, and find real solutions that work for Alaska,” Giessel said in a prepared statement. “Despite witnessing the worst in humanity during his deployment to Iraq, Josh has maintained a positive outlook while serving his community, state and nation, and we’re excited to see him bring that same spirit of service to the Senate. I welcome Senator Josh Revak to the Senate and the Republican caucus.”

Revak was sworn in on Saturday, immediately following the vote.

“I am deeply humbled by this opportunity to continue serving my neighbors in District M and the State of Alaska in the State Senate,” Revak said in a prepared statement thanking his colleagues in the House and Senate. “I look forward to continuing to work with them from my new role as we seek solutions to the challenges facing our state.”

Revak’s appointment will open a new seat in the House to be filled by appointment. With a majority of House Republicans already aligned with the governor, it’s unlikely that there will be much of a fight over that appointment.

The governor has 30 days from Saturday to fill the House vacancy.

‘He voted Republican’

After taking part in some of the session’s early head-turning antics—like attempting to swear in Rep. Sharon Jackson with a public notary—Revak has kept a relatively low profile throughout the session, generally staying in line with his fellow minority Republicans on issues like the PFD, the budget and support of Dunleavy.

A veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Revak’s military service is a key part of who he is, but it’s something else that he wants to be remembered for, at least according to an interview he gave to, an extreme-right website on Politifact’s “Fake News List,” this summer in 2013. (Thanks to the reader who forwarded this video.)

Doug Giles: “When you suck your last breath of oxygen into your warrior lungs and you take your adios snooze, the eternal siesta, what do you want people to write up about you?”

Revak: “He voted Republican.”

Why it matters

Dunleavy gets a boost of support in the Senate with the appointment of Revak, particularly when it comes to a larger dividend. Following Birch’s death, the Senate Republicans were split 6-6 on the size of the dividend. Revak will deliver Dunleavy an eighth Republican vote for his core campaign promise.

Still, the change does little in the overall picture of the Senate or the Legislature to get the governor in terms of making a $3,000 dividend—or a $6,700 one for that matter—a reality. The 11-9 votes in the Senate that rejected the big dividend in favor of the $1,600 PFD paid out earlier this fall would have been a still-failing 10-10 vote.

The House, meanwhile, has a somewhat larger margin for sticking with the $1,600 PFD.

Dunleavy had pledged to continue the fight for a large dividend with another special session this year but pulled back on those promises following Shaw’s defeat in the Senate. It’s unclear what Revak’s appointment will mean for those hopes as the governor must give legislators 30 days’ notice before calling a special session.

Some legislators who’ve pushed for a big PFD have softened on their position in recent months, instead favoring some kind of compromise that would rework and reduce the statutory formula for the payment.

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