Kerttula to again head House Dems

Posted: Sunday, November 07, 2010

Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, has been selected as the House Minority Leader, Democratic legislators announced Friday after meeting in Anchorage.

She'll be joined in the Democratic leadership by Anchorage's Berta Gardner, who will serve in the No. 2 position as minority whip, and Max Gruenberg, also from Anchorage, will serve as minority floor leader, said Mark Gnadt, minority press secretary.

Saturday, the Republicans announced in a press release Nikiski's Mike Chenaultwill return as Speaker of the House. Southeast, however, will be represented in two majority leadership positions. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, will serve as the co-chairman of the Finance Committee and will oversee the legislative progress of the state's operating budget. His co-chairman will be Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak/Mat-Su Valley. Meanwhile, Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, will be the majority whip.

Alan Austerman, R- Kodiak will be the majority leader, the release states. Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage will head the Rules Committee and Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue, will be in charge of the House's Bush Caucus.

Democrats have 16 seats in the 40-member House, compared to 24 for Republicans. That's down two seats for the Democrats from the last session following last week's election.

Two Democrats were defeated for re-election, Woodie Salmon of Chalkyitsik and Bob Buch of Anchorage. A third, Harry Crawford of Anchorage, did not run for re-election and his seat was one by a Republican.

Democrats picked up a single seat, defeating Mike Kelly, R-Fairbanks. Democrat Bob Miller will replace Kelly.

Kerttula did not return phone calls Thursday or Friday.

However, last session three rural Democrats joined the Republican-led majority. Gnadt said the exact numbers of each caucus are not yet known.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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