Alaska’s current State Senate Majority Leader Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) is urging Republicans to stick together and form a Republican controlled majority caucus for the upcoming legislative session.

With the State Senate expected to be narrowly divided between 11 Republicans and 9 Democrats, Hughes is emphasizing the fact that most Alaskans voted for a Republican senator. 

While the final election results won’t be determined until 4 p.m. on Nov. 23, it appears as if 11 of the 20 Senators will be Republicans.

Hughes points out that 153,577 of 236,833 of first-choice votes cast by Alaskans for state senate races in the general election were for Republicans (based on votes counted as of Nov. 22). This equates to 64.8% of first choice votes cast.

“That is a clear signal Alaskans believe a right-of-center Senate Majority is best for our state,” Hughes said in a Nov. 22 statement. “High inflation, gas, and energy prices; President Biden’s anti-resource development policies; and concerning social policies prompted voters to select right-leaning candidates to serve in our state senate. Alaskans voted the way they did to help strengthen our economy, our communities, and our families.”

Hughes said it is incumbent upon Senate Republicans to respect the will of the voters and form a GOP majority.

“We all understand that who the voters choose to serve greatly impacts our state, but we need to realize too how those who serve choose to form a majority also greatly impacts our state,” she said. Hughes adding that due to the close 11-9 divide, two or three Democrats would be invited to join the proposed Republican controlled majority, as has been done in the past.

“The assumption that a group of some of the Republicans joining with all of the Democrats is the only option for a functional majority is false,” Hughes emphasized. “There is another reasonable and viable pathway forward that better reflects the will of Alaskans and would result in more positive outcomes for our state. As we approach the upcoming session, we hope to join together with all our Republican colleagues in the Senate Majority in acknowledgment of and respect for the voters.”

In an email sent to returning senators and senators-elect, Hughes urged her colleagues to join forces.

“Because we are all Republicans, I believe we should make all efforts to work together the best we can,” she said. “Otherwise, what does the R after our name mean?”

Hughes indicated that Republicans should set aside differences on the question of whether to pay out a statutory Permanent Fund Dividend.

“As the basis for this conversation, it is important first to note that we have fewer senators who support the statutory PFD this upcoming session than last; in fact, it is a significant minority,” she said. “For this reason, the PFD amount should no longer be a point of contention among Republican senators nor a roadblock to organizing. Those preferring a more moderate PFD have numbers on their side, so we should not continue to let this issue fracture Senate Republicans!”

Hughes proposed that Republicans coalesce around the following issues in the upcoming legislative session.

— Agree on a spending cap to the operating budgets for FY24 and FY25

— Put the PFD in its own separate budget bill each year to allow each senator the freedom to vote according to their district.

Hughes proposed that Republicans could also rally around several other policy ideas. These include the following:

— Pave a way to incorporate microreactors on the Railbelt and in rural Alaska to provide more affordable energy.

— Modernize the State Ferry System.

— Address healthcare costs.

— Improve efficiencies and accountability in state government departments.

— Improve education and student outcomes.

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Sen. Hughes urges Alaska Senate Republicans to honor voters’ intent & form a ruling majority

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Neil DeWitt says:

    It’s good to know we start out with 11to 9. The problem will be how many of those 11 are RINO’s? It seams like we’ve had a bunch of them here lately. Of we could actually count on all 11 that would be great. I guess time will tell.

  • Molly says:

    Republicans just never learn how to be and stay strong.
    We put you there to represent our conservative views, not to make friends with the enemy that caused all the shit we elected you to clean up.
    LISTEN with both your ears, dont even let them in the room!

  • James says:

    Any hope of repealing RCV is evaporating.

  • Mb says:

    Repeal RCV

  • North to Alaska says:

    Sen. Bert Stedman And company are interested in working with conservatives. They hate us. Real question is when will the Republican party start removing them from the party like they did to Murkowski?

    • Diana says:

      Hughes is no better and no different in legislative work and purpose than Stedman….she needs to go!

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Thank you Diana for saying the quiet part out loud!
    Hughes knows one thing very well. Black dye and face paint. Legislative leading, not so much!!!

  • Bess says:

    Diana, Shelly Hughes is the best representative in the Valley. She follows through on her promises, that is, she tries but is often foiled by rhinos. She always responds to questions and recommends actions we can take, as she suggests in this article.
    Stedman sold his soul to the democrats long ago.

    • Diana says:

      If Hughes is all you have in the valley, you haven’t looked very well and very far for a much better representative. Hughes can’t do well on the writing, and analyzing unless she hires someone to write for her.

  • Larry Wood says:

    This is the same R majority (11) that we have had the last two sessions. This R majority did some really stupid things, but, maybe with new leadership, a Republican majority will materialize. We cannot afford business as usual. Further, it is paramount if Alaska is to ever achieve fiscal sanity and social moderation, the Legislature needs to move to Anchorage or between Palmer and Wasilla for access by the majority of Alaskans. Until the sessions are under public illumination and the press does its job in informing and investigating the questionable conduct of our Legislature, nothing will change. And, the legislators themselves, no matter what they say, like the sessions in Juneau, much quieter. And, no one looking over their shoulders as their influence is bought and paid for by special interests. It should be noted that the Watchman is one of the few true investigative and factual news sources.