In this Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019 photo, Sen. Chris Birch, R-Anchorage, listens to other senators during a Senate session at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. Birch, a former state House member who also served on the Fairbanks North Star Borough and Anchorage assemblies, has died, his family said in a statement Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. He was 68. Birch died Wednesday, Aug. 7 of a torn or ruptured aorta after experiencing chest pains and being taken to an Anchorage hospital, the family said. (Loren Holmes/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

In this Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019 photo, Sen. Chris Birch, R-Anchorage, listens to other senators during a Senate session at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. Birch, a former state House member who also served on the Fairbanks North Star Borough and Anchorage assemblies, has died, his family said in a statement Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. He was 68. Birch died Wednesday, Aug. 7 of a torn or ruptured aorta after experiencing chest pains and being taken to an Anchorage hospital, the family said. (Loren Holmes/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Republican state Sen. Chris Birch dies

Birch was elected to the Anchorage Senate seat that had been held by Republican Kevin Meyer.

  • By Becky Bohrer Associated Press
  • Thursday, August 8, 2019 11:30pm
  • NewsState News

Associated Press

JUNEAU — Republican Alaska state Sen. Chris Birch, a former state House member who also served on the Fairbanks North Star Borough and Anchorage assemblies, has died, his family said Thursday. He was 68.

Birch died Wednesday of a torn or ruptured aorta after experiencing chest pains and being taken to an Anchorage hospital, the family said.

“Our family is devastated,” the statement said. “He was the ultimate cheerleader and it is difficult to imagine this world without him.”

Birch, an engineer, was elected last fall to the Anchorage Senate seat that had been held by Republican Kevin Meyer, who was elected lieutenant governor. Birch chaired the Senate Resources Committee.

He campaigned on supporting resource development in Alaska and a state spending cap. He also was among the lawmakers who questioned the sustainability of efforts to pay a full Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.

Senate President Cathy Giessel called Birch’s death “a devastating loss to our state.”

“Chris was a good, principled man of character, one who treated everyone with dignity and respect,” Giessel said in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, an Anchorage Democrat, in a statement on behalf of his caucus, called Birch a friend who “worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents and Alaska.”

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, an independent, said he will remember Birch as a family man and for his “fierce advocacy” for what he believed to be in his constituents’ best interests.

Birch is survived by his wife, two children and grandchildren.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy ordered state flags to fly at half-staff in Birch’s honour from Friday through Wednesday.

State law sets out a process for filling legislative vacancies that begins with Dunleavy making an appointment within 30 days. Because Birch was a Republican, the appointment must be a Republican and subject to confirmation by Senate Republicans.

An election to fill the seat would coincide with the next general election in November 2020.

More in News

Central Emergency Services staff wait to receive doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna, borough to continue 911 dispatch partnership

The assembly approved an agreement Tuesday

Alaska State Troopers logo.
ATV accident leaves teen dead in Ninilchik

A 15-year-old girl was driving an ATV with a 14-year-old female passenger

Cook Inlet can be seen at low tide from North Kenai Beach on June 15, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Comment period on proposed Cook Inlet lease sale opens Friday

Cook Inlet is one of 11 locations described in the department’s Proposed Program for the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Pottery pieces are displayed as a part of the Kenai Potters’ Guild July show at the Kenai Art Center on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Throwing together

Potters’ Guild artists show off their clay creations

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire
This photo shows boats moored at Don D. Statter Harbor on a recent sunny day. According to statistics recently release by the U.S. Coast Guard, boating accidents were down in Alaska in 2021.
Boating fatalities trending down for 2021

Numbers met expectations, said safety instructors

Fishermen took to the mouth of the Kasilof River for opening day of dipnetting, on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion file)
Kasilof dipnetting expanded, sockeye catch upped

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued multiple advisory announcements for sport anglers and dipnetters

Signs warn Fred Meyer customers to prepay if they thing they may go over limits while pumping gas on Friday, March 11, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Analysis: Inflation is up in Alaska

Alaska’s 2021 average inflation rate was the largest annual price increase since 1990

Mount Redoubt can be seen acoss Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Offshore oil plan envisions a single Cook Inlet sale

The proposed 2023-2028 plan is similar to the just-ended Obama administration five-year plan

People line the streets in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022 for the annual Independence Day parade. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Red, white and blue all day

Kenai turns out for parade, activities to celebrate Independence Day

Most Read