Alaska governor appoints Republican Thomas Baker to vacant state House seat

Juneau, Alaska (AP) – Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Wednesday appointed Republican Thomas Baker to the state House seat left vacant last month when independent Rep. Josiah Patkotak resigned after being elected North Slope Borough mayor.

Patkotak was one of four rural lawmakers — independents and Democrats — who joined with 19 Republicans to form a majority in the 40-member House earlier this year. Because Patkotak was an independent, Dunleavy was not bound by party affiliation in selecting a replacement.

Dunleavy’s office said in a statement that Baker’s name will be sent to Republican House members for a confirmation vote.

Provisions of law dealing with legislative vacancies were tweaked under a 2020 ballot measure. Scott Kendall, an attorney and an author of that measure, said confirmation should be voted on by members of the House majority caucus, regardless of party.

Two House Republicans are not part of the majority caucus.

Baker is a construction operations manager for Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corp. and chairs a regional advisory council for the Federal Subsistence Board, according to information provided by Dunleavy’s office. Baker, from Kotzebue, unsuccessfully ran for state Senate in 2020.

All House seats are up for election next year.