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Gov. Dunleavy nominates Rep. Revak for Senate District M

 Gov. Dunleavy speaks at a press conference on Sept. 27, 2019.
Gov. Dunleavy speaks at a press conference on Sept. 27, 2019. (KTUU)
Published: Sep. 27, 2019 at 11:02 AM AKDT
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Gov. Mike Dunleavy called a press conference on Friday morning in which he said he would discuss the Permanent Fund dividend, Senate Seat M, and the possibility of a special session.

But he pushed off two of the issues until the vacant Senate Seat M is filled.

Dunleavy announces Rep. Josh Revak for Senate Seat M

Gov. Dunleavy announced that he is nominating Rep. Josh Revak as his nominee for Senate Seat M, and said he wouldn't call a third special session until the seat is filled.

Posted by Channel 2 News, KTUU.com on Friday, September 27, 2019

Dunleavy announced that he is nominating Rep. Josh Revak, currently serving in House District 25 to fill the vacated Senate Seat M. Dunleavy had previously nominated Rep. Laddie Shaw, but he was voted down by Senate Republicans, allegedly over his stance on the PFD. Revak and Shaw both attended the controversial special session in Wasilla, when the majority of the legislature met in Juneau.

Josh Revak (Photo from Alaska Legislature)

Many reporters asked questions concerning whether the Senate confirmation process will be any different considering that both Shaw and Revak have similar qualifications and political views. Like Shaw, Revak is a combat veteran, having served in Iraq. Dunleavy responded that the nomination was made based on character, not politics. Revak's Lower Hillside and Abbott Loop district is included in District M, which was vacated by Birch.

In a phone call with Channel 2, Rep. Revak struck a compromising tone, acknowledging that he had supported a $3,000 PFD in the past but that he hoped the legislature would be "pragmatic" in coming to a solution.

"I think all issues need to be flexible," he said in response to his current stance on the PFD. "That's why we have a legislature. If everybody was dug in on all sides of every issue, we'd accomplish nothing."

Still, he said he wouldn't commit to any certain compromise.

"From what I understand there's been a lot of talk surrounding potential solutions moving forward,"he said. "So I look forward to finding what those are before I come out for or against them."

Meanwhile, the Alaska House Republicans caucus, which has been supportive of the governor's agenda, applauded the nomination, calling Revak a "selfless leader." U.S. Representative Don Young, for whom Revak previously worked as a liaison for military and veterans affairs chimed in through a press release.

“Josh Revak is not only a great patriot, but he is a man of great character. During his tenure in my Anchorage office, Josh’s dedication and service to Alaskans was evident. Josh is an exceptional Alaskan, a combat veteran, loving father and husband, and an important member of the community. I am confident that he will continue to be a valuable asset to the State of Alaska.”

State statutes now require that a majority of the chamber and party approve the nominee. In this case, that means that a majority of Senate Republicans must vote in favor of Revak. Senate President Cathy Giessel said in a press release on Sept. 29 after not confirming Rep. Shaw that the vote was about best representing Senate Seat M, which was vacated when Sen. Chris Birch passed away.

“The duty of the Senate is to confirm a replacement to District M with deference to the views of the late Senator Birch and, most importantly, those of all the people in the district he served,” she wrote adding that Sen. Birch had been a strong proponent of updating the PFD formula.

Today, Giessel said in a press release that ""Senate Republicans are determining a time to meet for the consideration of Governor Dunleavy’s appointment to the Senate vacancy," though she did not specify when that might be.

Dunleavy did address the future of his goal of a full statutory PFD, saying that he will "continue to fight" for it, though he did not address the practical implications of how that might be done with the majority of the House of Representatives against additional funding. A full, statutory PFD would add about $1,400 to the current dividend,

Gov. Dunleavy also punted the issue of a special session down the road, saying that he would wait before calling a third special session until Senate Seat M is filled.

Sean Maguire contributed to reporting on this story. Copyright 2019 KTUU. All Rights Reserved.