Ben Stevens picked to replace Pearce

Posted: Sunday, July 15, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Ben Stevens, the son of powerful U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, is Gov. Tony Knowles' pick to replace Drue Pearce in the state Senate.

Knowles said he believes the younger Stevens will ''usher in a new positive tone'' for addressing Alaska's problems. He referred specifically to Stevens' positions on subsistence, a long-range fiscal plan and bridging the urban-rural divide.

''I am heartened with his commitment to bring an independent mind to these issues, to work both sides of the political aisle for what's best for all Alaskans,'' Knowles said.

Stevens, 42, said he supports a constitutional amendment that would grant a subsistence preference for rural hunters and fishermen, thus removing a conflict between state and federal law.

Knowles said Stevens is a lifelong Alaskan who worked 15 years as a commercial fisherman and has owned and managed a business providing government relations and consulting services. He was president and CEO of the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games, held in Anchorage this year.

His father, Ted Stevens, is the ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and chaired the committee until control of the Senate shifted to the Democratic Party this year.

Pearce, R-Anchorage, resigned her seat in June to take a job with the Bush administration in Washington, D.C.

A moderate, Pearce had also supported a subsistence constitutional amendment. Previous efforts to achieve the two-thirds vote in the Senate needed to place the measure before voters have failed, prompting a federal takeover of management of subsistence fishing on most Alaska waters.

State law required Knowles, a Democrat, to appoint someone of the same party as Pearce. The law also requires the Senate Republican caucus to approve the appointment.

Senate President Rick Halford, R-Chugiak, said he believes there's no question the caucus will agree to Stevens' appointment.

Stevens said he plans to seek re-election to the seat in 2002 when his appointed term expires.

Knowles picked Stevens from four candidates recommended by the Republican Party. The list included the two representatives from Pearce's Senate district -- Andrew Halcro and Norm Rokeberg. Nancy Bear Usera, chief of staff to former Governor Walter Hickel, also was nominated.



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