Walker picks Mat-Su Assembly member Kowalke for state Senate

Mat-Su Borough Assembly member Randall Kowalke is pictured in the assembly portrait. Gov. Bill Walker named him to the vacant state Senate seat vacated by Mike Dunleavy. (Photo courtesy of Matanuska-Susitna Borough)

Mat-Su Borough Assembly member Randall Kowalke is pictured in an assembly portrait. Gov. Bill Walker named him to the state Senate seat vacated by Mike Dunleavy. (Photo courtesy Matanuska-Susitna Borough)

Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly member Randall Kowalke was appointed Friday by Gov. Bill Walker to the state Senate.

Kowalke is a Republican and a retired businessman who lives in Willow. He would fill the seat vacated by Mike Dunleavy in January when he resigned to focus on running for governor.

A majority of the 13 Republicans in the Senate must vote to support Kowalke before he can be seated. If they don’t agree to the pick, Walker will have to choose another person.

Kowalke was not one of the three people that the District E Republican Party nominated for the position. They were state Rep. George Rauscher, Anchorage teacher Todd Smoldon and organic food worker Tom Braund.

The other Mat-Su senators, David Wilson and Shelley Hughes, issued a joint statement saying they were “disappointed with Gov. Walker’s decision to circumvent the traditional process.”

Governors traditionally have chosen replacement legislators from three district party nominees. But not every replacement has been made through this process. Most recently, Walker picked District 40 Rep. John Lincoln despite him not being one of the three local party nominees.

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