Politics & Government

Alaska's newest state legislator will join Democrats

Alaska political junkies, meet Neal Foster of Nome: pilot, Stanford grad, marathoner.

Here is the part you'll care about most — as the region's newest legislator he plans to team up with Democrats rather than Republicans.

House Democrats confirmed Foster on Sunday as the replacement for his father, Rep. Richard Foster, who died in October. Like several rural lawmakers the elder Foster was a registered Democrat but regularly voted with Republicans in the House majority.

The younger Foster says he's joining the smaller Democratic caucus instead.

"Our district is predominately Democrats, and I think I just have a lot of the same beliefs and values as Democrats," he said.

For example, Foster favors a rural preference for subsistence hunting and fishing.

Sunday's confirmation means Democrats expand their minority caucus to 15 members and clinch an additional seat on the House Finance Committee, said House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau.

Foster will serve the remainder of his father's term, about one year, and is already planning to file for re-election. The Western Alaska district stretches from Hooper Bay to Nome.

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