to Fill District A Senate Seat
by Dick Kauffman
November 09, 2003
Last Thursday the Governor announced that he had decided not to move forward with his nomination of Ketchikan resident Jim Elkins to fill the State Senate District A seat, vacated by Robin Taylor. Murkowski said last Thursday that he would be asking Republican District 1 and District 2 committees for any additional names they would like to submit; otherwise, he would pick a nominee from the original list.
In Saturday's news conference Murkowski announced his selection for the Senate seat. The Governor said, "We made a selection from the list that was selected by the combined Districts 1 and 2 and that gentleman's name is Mr. Bert Stedman who resides in Sitka."
Murkowski said, "Stedman has been in business in Sitka for a long time and knows Southeastern Alaska very well and will be an able representative to replace Robin Taylor." The Governor said Stedman also has family connections in Petersburg.
Murkowski said, "It is important to note that the Districts combined listed four names and the top name has withdrawn. He [Stedman] is the second name that appeared on the list." Murkowski said he will be sending Stedman's name to the Senate Republican Caucus on Monday. The Governor said he expected the Senate Republican Caucus will act favorably. Murkowski said if the Senate Republican Caucus doesn't accept the nominee that they will go back to the combined Districts 1 and 2 and ask them as they did in this occasion whether they want to add to their list or decline to add to their list.
Governor Murkowski said he thought Stedman would make a fine addition and could hold the seat and be reelected.
When asked why he specifically choose Bert Stedman Murkowski said, "First of all, he was second on the list. The first withdrew. I think that should be pretty sufficient evidence that he was supportive of Districts 1 and 2." Murkowski said the first person on the list was Rep. Peggy Wilson of Wrangell - who withdrew.
The Governor commented on his Saturday meeting with the Ketchikan Republicans. Murkowski said Jim Elkins was there and obviously Ketchikan was concerned with losing the seat. He said, "On the other hand I have to abide by process that's been established and that's the submission of names. We followed that procedure." Murkowski said the circumstances surrounding Jim Elkins was unfortunate and, "We've been acquaintances and friends for a long time but there's a difference between an appointment and an election." The Governor said, "Some of the alleged comments, had I known of them prior to the appointment obviously I wouldn't have made that choice." Murkowski said he mentioned that to the group when he met with them Saturday morning.
Regarding how his decision was received by the Ketchikan Republicans in his meeting Saturday morning, Murkowski said, "Well, I think the idea of the seat moving from Ketchikan was a disappointment."
The Governor said Jim Elkins of Ketchikan was tied in the position of third and fourth in the original list that was created by the members of the Districts. Murkowski said Rep. Peggy Wilson was first on the list; however, she withdrew and Bert Stedman was second on the list.