Republican leaders call for Cowdery to step down

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The latest calls for Republican Sen. John Cowdery to step down are coming from his own neighborhood, though Senate leaders say the ailing lawmaker should be back in his Juneau office this week.

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One day before lawmakers are to convene in legislative session in Juneau, Republican party leaders from Cowdery's Anchorage district called on the veteran lawmaker to resign, saying he could not effectively represent his district from afar.

The 77-year-old senator, who has been dogged by a federal corruption probe, said last week he would not attend this year's session because of poor health, but he would participate by telephone.

In a resolution dated Sunday, district committee leaders said that would not do.

"His telephonic participation would effectively disenfranchise the voters of this district on most issues of importance to the district and the state," committee leaders wrote.

Lawmakers may participate in committee meetings by telephone but must be present to vote on the floor of the Senate or House.

Cowdery was not available for comment. Senate Majority spokesman Jeff Turner said Cowdery remains hospitalized in Anchorage.

But Senate President Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, said she expects Cowdery will report to Juneau by the week's end. Green has steadfastly defended keeping Cowdery as rules chairman, a position that serves as gatekeeper for legislation headed for a floor vote.

Green said people need to be mindful of Cowdery's health when questioning whether he should still be in office.

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