UPDATE: Senate republicans confirm Shower for District E

Published: Feb. 21, 2018 at 12:50 PM AKST
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Feb. 22 Update:

Despite confusion of his party affiliation, Senate republicans confirmed Mike "Dozer" Shower for the vacant seat in District E.

In a news release, Senate President Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) said that with Shower's appointment, the Senate will be "whole" once more.

“Alaska is home to more military veterans per capita than any state in the Union, and we hope Mr. Shower brings that culture of service to the Legislature as he works on behalf of the people of District E," Kelly said.

“The Senate stood tough for the people of District E and we appreciate that Mr. Shower was chosen through the traditional process,” Senate Majority Leader Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) said in a prepared statement Thursday.

Original Story:
NOTE: This story was updated Wednesday afternoon after the Division of Elections said they found two attempts by Mike Shower to change his party affiliation from undeclared to Republican in January.

Gov. Bill Walker renominated a Wasilla man to a vacant Senate seat Wednesday when it turned out the man, Mike Shower, may not have been a registered Republican at the time of his first nomination Tuesday.

The Alaska Division of Elections said Shower hadn't changed his affiliation until he called up Wednesday morning. But then officials found paperwork dated Jan. 13 and Jan. 30 that showed Shower was attempting to change his registration last month.

“Sometime this afternoon, they tracked it down and got it processed,” said Daniel Ruiz, an administrative clerk in the Elections Division.

Alaska law requires Walker to appoint someone from the same political party as the person who had occupied the seat and requires the remaining party members in either the Senate or House to confirm the choice.

Michael Dunleavy, a Republican, quit the seat in January to focus on his race for governor. His departure left 13 Republicans in the Senate, all of them in the majority caucus.

The renomination letter from Walker was read during the Senate floor session Wednesday before noon.

Ruiz said two attempts by Shower to change his registration from "undeclared" to "Republican" were found Wednesday after a search of paperwork. One was signed by a registrar and dated Jan. 13, the day of a Republican Party district convention in the Mat-Su Borough. Ruiz said the registrar was Rep. David Eastman, the representative from House district 10.

Another bore an Elections Division date stamp of Jan. 30, he said.

The paperwork is usually processed in a week to 10 days, Ruiz said, and he couldn't explain either delay.

Tuckerman Babcock, the Republican Party chairman who recommended Shower to Walker Feb. 16, said he believed Shower was a Republican at the time. He added that he was happy the division acknowledged the error and wouldn't take the matter any further.

Like most Alaskans, Shower didn't join a political party in 1993 when he first registered to vote.

In first naming Shower on Tuesday, Walker had gone with the choice of local Republicans for the seat. The name was passed to Walker by Babcock, who said Shower was the choice of a majority of Party members who attended a special nominating meeting.

Shower is a FedEx cargo pilot who once flew fighter jets in the Air Force.

Naming him was Walker’s third attempt at filling the seat. The first pick, retired businessman Randall Kowalke, was rejected by Senate Republicans because he wasn’t one of the local choices. The second, Tom Braund, had been selected by local Republicans, but Braund withdrew after his odd and violent social media posts surfaced.

In a Twitter message at the time he resubmitted Shower, Walker, a Republican-turned-independent, said: “Senate Republicans asked me to re-nominate Mike Shower for the Senate District E vacancy now that he’s formally changed his party registration to GOP.”

Doyle Holmes, the Republican Party chairman of House District 10 — one of two House districts in Dunleavy’s Senate district — had urged Republican senators to reject Shower over his political registration. An email sent to the Senators Wednesday morning by Holmes and signed by his wife, Debra Holmes, accused Babcock of “lying to you” by claiming that Shower registered as a Republican at a district convention in January.

But Babcock said he thought Shower had indeed changed his registration.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Holmes said that allowing Shower to attend that convention was part of a power grab by an anti-abortion faction of the Republican Party that included Eastman.

Eastman said he recalled signing Shower's registration on Jan. 13. He said he left the form with the Division of Elections.