Rep. Kott says he may give up his House seat

Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2004

State Rep. Pete Kott said he might give up his seat if the right job offer came along.

Kott, an Eagle River Republican, virtually dropped out of sight since a failed coup to reinstall him as House speaker last month.

He said Sunday he plans to relocate to Juneau for the four-month legislative session that begins Jan. 10. But he also said he was keeping his options open and might resign from office "if there is a better offer on the street."

The 12-year legislator said he could be interested in a job with the state.

"I've been out looking, and we'll see what happens," Kott said.

Kott last spoke publicly at a Nov. 13 press conference where he and a splinter group of Republicans announced that they had joined with Democrats to seize control of the state House. The rebel coalition said it had enough support to topple incoming House Speaker John Harris and put Kott back in charge.

Kott served as speaker for the past two years but narrowly lost the job to Harris, a Valdez Republican, in a Nov. 5 poll of the 27 members of the House Republican majority.

The coup lasted less than 48 hours. Harris and his allies, who called up coalition members and urged them to abandon the rebellion, said its support was weak. The Republican Party of Alaska threatened participants with losing party support.

After that Kott did not respond to media requests for interviews.

He re-emerged this weekend at a flooring job in Juneau. Kott owns a hardwood flooring business and won a bid to repair rain and water-fountain damage to the gymnasium floor in the Terry Miller Legislative Office Building.

Since the coup attempt, he said, he has been in Wisconsin at a flooring school and in Petersburg doing floors.

Kott said he did not orchestrate the coup. He said there were a "couple of Republicans" who were interested in it and brought him and the Democrats along.

He declined to name the Republicans, saying they wanted to maintain an atmosphere of cooperation in the state House. Kott gained a reputation as speaker for doing bipartisan work, which his supporters preferred over the vicious party-line fights in the Senate.

Kott said commitments from coalition members seemed "fairly firm" but withered under the pressure. He said he hasn't spoken to legislators who abandoned the coup to figure out just how it fizzled.

Kott has said he wants to remain a member of the Republican majority caucus and will meet soon with incoming Speaker Harris to discuss his future. Harris is honeymooning in Hawaii.

House Majority Leader John Coghill, R-North Pole, said he believes Kott would be welcomed back in the majority caucus.

"He is highly respected among Republicans, and I think there is a willingness to work with him," Coghill said.

But Kott's role in the coup would need to be considered when figuring out his standing within the caucus, Coghill said. Two other Republican members of the uprising lost their committee chairmanships as punishment.

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