From Sean Cockerham in Juneau –
Gov. Sarah Palin surprised state lawmakers tonight by forwarding the names of three appointees to the single open state Senate seat. Two of them, Tim Grussendorf and Joe Nelson, have already been rejected by the Senate Democrats.
Palin said the third, Alan Wilson, is a “successful small businessman and active in the community." He is involved with the Affordable Housing Commission and serves as co-chair of the Cold Climate Housing Research Center. He is a former president of the Alaska State Home Building Association and is currently president of Alaska Renovators, a remodeling company.
Palin said that the Senate Democrats can now choose from among the three.
Anchorage Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski objected that, under the law, Palin can’t appoint three people to the seat -- she has to pick one of them.
He also objected to all three of the names she put forward. “From my perspective, I’m not going to support any of those names,” Wielechowski said.
He said he has no idea who Wilson is. But he said that he checked when his name started floating around and found that, at least until recently, Wilson was not registered as a Democrat. He was registered as undeclared, Wielechowski said.
(Update -- Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said Wilson became a Democrat on March 4.)
The governor has to appoint a Juneau Democrat to the seat, and her choice requires the approval of a majority of the nine Democrats in the state Senate. The seat is open because Kim Elton resigned for an Obama administration job.