Knowles has 30 days to name Pearce replacement

Posted: Tuesday, June 19, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles must decide within the next month who should replace Anchorage Sen. Drue Pearce, who resigned her Senate seat effective Monday to take a Department of Interior job in Washington, D.C.

State law requires the new senator to be not only from the same district, but also from the same party as the departing senator -- so Knowles must appoint a Republican.

He must make the appointment within 30 days of the vacancy. And state law makes the appointment subject to confirmation by Senate Republicans.

Normally, a governor asks for recommendations from the party, but that is not required.

Knowles' spokeswoman Claire Richardson told the Alaska Public Radio Network that Knowles also will also take suggestions from other sources and will listen to the public before he decides.

Senate Majority Leader Loren Leman of Anchorage said it would be unwise for the governor to ignore the party's recommendation since Senate Republicans ultimately have to confirm the appointment.

Although the qualifications for the appointee are the same as those for a candidate for office, Leman said it would also be easier for the majority to confirm an appointee who pledges not to run for the seat in the next election. Such an appointee would be a ''caretaker'' for just the one year left in Pearce's term, he said.

Republicans Norm Rokeberg and Andrew Halcro -- representatives from the House districts that make up Pearce's Senate district -- have expressed an interest in the job.

Pearce's staff will remain in place through the end of the year to deal with constituent issues.

Senate Republicans also will be choosing one of their members to replace Pearce as chairwoman of the Rules Committee -- a powerful leadership position that probably would not go to the newcomer replacing Pearce.

Leman said some members have already expressed interest in the position, but any one of the 14 Republican caucus members could be chosen.

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