Sponsors want vacancy initiative on Nov. ballot

Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2004

A group of Democrat lawmakers who want to prevent Alaska's governor from filling U.S. Senate vacancies asked Lt. Gov. Loren Leman on Monday to keep their initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Leman, the Republican who will ultimately decide whether a new law on Senate vacancies is similar enough to void the initiative, has already said that it is.

But initiative sponsors said the new law still gives the governor the power to appoint a temporary replacement.

"The whole idea was to take that power away so that the people could be able to choose a replacement senator," said Peter Giannini, their attorney.

Leman could decide as early as Wednesday, spokeswoman Annette Kreitzer said.

The initiative sprang from Gov. Frank Murkowski's decision to appoint his daughter, Lisa, to his unexpired Senate seat in 2002.

Democratic Reps. Eric Croft, Harry Crawford and David Guttenberg formed the group "Trust the People" and have been fighting for a year to get the measure on the ballot, collecting more than 50,000 signatures.

But GOP lawmakers approved a new law earlier this year after it became clear the initiative would be before voters in November.

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