Rep. Bryce Edgmon elected as House speaker

    Juneau, Alaska (AP) - Rep. Bryce Edgmon, who changed his party affiliation from Democrat to undeclared earlier this week, was elected House speaker on Thursday, ending a standoff that had paralyzed the chamber.

    The 21-18 vote came on the 31st day of the legislative session — the longest stretch the House had gone without electing a permanent speaker. It also came the day after Gov. Mike Dunleavy released a budget proposal with sweeping cuts.

    The House was limited in what it could do without a permanent speaker and majority organization. While lawmakers held private and informational public meetings, they had yet to hear a single bill.

    Edgmon, who is from Dillingham, was speaker during the last Legislature, when he led a largely Democratic coalition that also included currently serving Republican Reps. Louise Stutes and Gabrielle LeDoux and independent Dan Ortiz.

    A state elections official said Edgmon changed his party affiliation from Democrat to undeclared earlier this week.

    The Republicans supporting Edgmon for speaker Thursday were Stutes, who is from Kodiak, and Anchorage Reps. LeDoux, Jennifer Johnston and Chuck Kopp.

    The vote followed multiple failed efforts to elect a speaker this session.

    Republicans had repeatedly offered Rep. Dave Talerico for the role. While Republicans hold 23 of the House's 40 seats, three Republicans, Stutes, LeDoux and Rep. Gary Knopp, had not aligned with the GOP caucus and Talerico could never muster the necessary support.

    Knopp was excused from the floor session Thursday.

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