Retired Air Force fighter pilot Mike Shower is seen after landing on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam on July 20, 2008. (U.S. Air Force by Airman 1st Class Courtney Witt)

Gov. Bill Walker appoints former F-22 pilot to vacant Alaska Senate seat

Gov. Bill Walker on Tuesday nominated a retired U.S. Air Force fighter pilot to fill the Alaska Senate seat vacated in January by Mike Dunleavy.

Mike Shower, former first commander of the first squadron of F-22 Raptors in Alaska, and a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, must be confirmed by a majority vote of Republicans in the Alaska Senate before taking the seat.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Senate President Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, said he appreciated that the governor named someone from a list suggested by district Republicans. He added that the Senate’s 13 Republicans will meet “soon.” Spokesman Daniel McDonald said no date has yet been set.

Alaska Republican Party chairman Tuckerman Babcock likewise thanked Walker for picking one of the district’s nominees. “We are deeply appreciative of the fact that the governor has made an appointment from the nominees suggested by the Alaska Republican Party,” Babcock said. “I see absolutely no reason why he will not be confirmed.”

By email, Shower said he was thankful.

“I would like to express my gratitude to Republican leaders in District 10 for nominating me to serve the great people of Alaska in Senate District E,” he wrote. “I am also deeply honored by my appointment to that seat by Governor Walker. I look forward to to speaking with Senate leadership and to the Senate’s consideration of my appointment.”

Shower’s nomination comes less than a week after Senate Republicans rejected a prior pick by Walker and a second pick withdrew his name from consideration. In his first attempt to fill the vacancy, Walker selected Mat-Su Borough Assemblyman Randall Kowalke, but Senate Republicans voted his nomination down because Kowalke was not on the list of three nominees forwarded by Senate District E Republicans.

The Alaska Constitution and Alaska law require the governor to fill a legislative vacancy within 30 days. The replacement lawmaker must be of the same party and district of the departed lawmaker, and fulfill all constitutional requirements for the job.

Alaska’s Republican and Democratic parties have created procedures that allow local party officials to draft short lists of candidates to guide the governor’s decision, but the governor is not bound by those lists.

After Kowalke was rejected, the governor nominated Tom Braund, a Mat-Su Republican who was among the three nominees offered by the district.

After the nomination, Alaska reporters uncovered social media posts by Braund that appeared to advocate the murder of abortion providers and compared women to dogs.

Braund withdrew his name from consideration when the posts became public knowledge.

Walker and his staff are now expected to turn their attention to the vacancy in Southwest’s House District 38. That seat has been vacant since the resignation of Zach Fansler earlier this month. Democrats nominated three candidates for the seat after a series of weekend interviews.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


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