Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on April 19, 2009 appointed Dennis Egan, former mayor of Juneau, and son of the state’s first Governor to fill the State Senate Seat vacated by Kim Elton who took a patronage job with the Obama administration (Egan, 2009, Â¶1). Senate Democrats confirmed the Governor’s appointment, ending a bitter fight that dragged on for weeks. Egan was neither one of the four choices the Democrats wanted, nor was he one of the three nominees Governor Palin submitted.
Lt. Governor Sean Parnell (right of lectern) Leads Swearing-In Ceremony for Dennis Egan (left).
“Mayor Egan is a good choice for Juneau,” Governor Palin said. “He’s pro-business and understands the need for responsible development in order to create jobs in Southeast. I thank Mayor Egan for his willingness to step forward and represent Juneau in the Senate” (Egan, 2009, Â¶4)
Egan was mayor of Juneau from 1995 to 2000, after serving 11 years on the assembly. He has had leading roles in the Alaska Conference of Mayors, the Alaska Municipal League, the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, the Alascom Inc. board of directors and Alaska Airlines advisory board, among many entities (Egan, 2009, Â¶5).
“The disagreement over the need for the Democratic caucus to vote in public continues. The Alaska Department of Law maintains that, regardless of legislative tradition, the law requires confirmation of vacancy appointments by vote in open session” (Egan, 2009, Â¶3).
A seasoned executive has the ability to negotiate under tough circumstances and arrive at an outcome that all parties involved can agree to. Without rehashing and belaboring the entire battle — prior blog entries document it more than adequately — up until the April 19th, the Senate Democrats were fixated on their goal of having Beth Kertualla replace Elton. Though they had three other names in mind, Kertulla was the goal. Governor Palin had her heart set on either Tim Grussendorf or Joe Nelson, but the Senate Democrats had no interest in either one. The result was a stalemate — or what might be called a Mexican stand-off (no insult to Mexicans intended — my wife happens to be Mexican) — only with an Alaskan twist. All metaphors aside, Juneau was fast hurtling towards having its State Senate Seat left vacant, and if both sides remained dug in, that’s precisely what would have happened.
Governor Palin ultimately picked a candidate that was neither on her preferred list nor on the Senate Democrats’ list — but a candidate that both sides could agree upon and live with. Whether State Senator Egan will be “just a place holder” till the next election remains to be seen. That’s a detail that will manifest itself over the next several months, and his performance in his job will be a determinant. What is important today is that both sides reached an amicable agreement and can put the matter behind them.
Though it was a hard-fought battle, Governor Palin used her 17 years of executive experience to achieve this outcome. She did not let anyone foist a candidate upon her or force her hand. This is a win for her, even if she did not get either of her preferred candidates (for the Senate Democrats did not get their preferred candidate either).
These words were spoken at the Republican Convention on September 3, 2008:
“Politics isn’t just a game of clashing parties and competing interests. The right reason is to challenge the status quo, to serve the common good, and to leave this nation better than we found it. No one expects us all to agree on everything, but we are expected to govern with integrity, and good will, and clear convictions, and a servant’s heart.” — Sarah Louise Heath Palin
By her actions with this appointment, she put these words into practice — as she does every day. Governor Palin has every reason to hold her head high and proud today.
Governor, Senate Democrats agree on Dennis Egan for District B. (2009, April 19). State of Alaska, Governor. Retrieved April 20, 2009 from: http://www.gov.state.ak.us/news.php?id=1775