3 eyeing post of House majority leader

Posted: Thursday, January 09, 2003

FAIRBANKS - Three people are eyeing the job of state House majority leader.

Republican Reps. Gary Stevens of Kodiak, Lesil McGuire of Anchorage, and John Coghill of North Pole are considering a run for the position, which was left vacant when Lisa Murkowski resigned to become a U.S. senator. Murkowski was elected majority leader by House Republicans in November.

The majority leader serves as the spokesperson for House Republicans and plays a large part in making sure bills move properly through the body. The majority leader also serves as speaker of the House when the speaker is not present.

Republicans are expected to elect a replacement during a meeting in Juneau before the legislative session begins on Jan. 21.

In an interview after Murkowski was appointed, House Speaker Pete Kott, an Eagle River Republican, said possible candidates for the job included Coghill, McGuire, Rep. Jim Whitaker of Fairbanks and Rep. Kevin Meyer of Anchorage. Whitaker and Meyer have said they're not interested.

Stevens' name has been mentioned by several legislators who have said he is the only person thus far to disclose his interest in the job.

"Gary Stevens is the only one that actually contacted me," Meyer said. Coghill and Rep. John Harris, a Valdez Republican, said they were aware of Stevens' interest.

"I think Gary Stevens is probably the one that's going to get it," Harris said.

Meanwhile, Coghill said he is considering putting in for the post.

"I've been discussing it with people off and on, but I haven't made any commitment to it," he said. "You can't say that I'm opposed to the idea."

Coghill said he believes he could do more for the Interior by remaining in his position as a member of the Finance Committee, but said people have encouraged him to shoot for the majority-leader spot.

"I honestly have struggled with it," he said. "I want to do both of them."

McGuire could not be reached for comment.

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