A new Republican state Senate majority was formed Wednesday afternoon, dissolving the previous bipartisan coalition a day after it was dealt a serious blow in Tuesday elections that saw Republicans make significant gains in the chamber.
Sen. Charlie Huggins will be president of the new Republican majority, while Sen. John Coghill will serve as majority leader. Sen. Lesil McGuire will chair the Senate Rules Committee, while Sens. Kevin Meyer and Pete Kelly will co-chair the Senate Finance Committee. Specifics of the leadership team were still being worked out Wednesday.
"The people spoke on the 6th of November," said Huggins. "This is reflection of the voice the people bring forward."
At the announcement, majority members said their agenda would include working with Gov. Sean Parnell to reduce spending and produce serious oil tax reform.
"I'm very excited to say we're going to go down there and craft the right bill that has the right balance between protecting Alaska's resource," said McGuire.
The Senate’s bipartisan majority of 10 Democrats and six Republicans had been targeted by Gov. Sean Parnell and business groups after the last legislative session, in which senators stopped Parnell’s plans to lower taxes on the oil industry.
Voters gave Republican challengers several formerly Democratic seats Tuesday night on an electoral map shifted by redistricting, with Pete Kelly defeating Sen. Joe Paskvan and Anna Fairclough beating Sen. Bettye Davis.
Two Republican members of the majority, Sens. Tom Wagoner and Linda Menard, were defeated in the August primaries by challengers Peter Micciche and Mike Dunleavy, who ran unopposed Tuesday night.
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