Palin names three candidates for Alaska state Senate seat

Gov. Sarah Palin surprised lawmakers Tuesday 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 a former president of the Alaska State Home Building Association and is currently president of Alaska Renovators, a Juneau remodeling company. Wilson only became a Democrat on March 4. He was previously registered nonpartisan, and Juneau Democratic Party officials are opposing him, as they did Nelson and Grussendorf.

Palin must appoint a Democrat from Juneau to the seat, which opened when longtime Juneau Democratic Sen. Kim Elton resigned for an Obama administration job. Her pick requires approval of a majority of the nine state Senate Democrats.

Palin said the Senate Democrats can now choose from among the three. "The bottom line is the governor wants to give them a choice and she hopes they select one of the three names they put forth," said Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow.

The head of the Juneau Democratic Party said she thinks all three will be rejected.

"It's to the point of ridiculousness. I think this is serious business and (Palin) is making a mockery out of it," said Juneau Democratic Party chairwoman Kim Metcalfe. "The two have been turned down already and the other, Alan Wilson, is a Juneau contractor who is a complete unknown to the Juneau Democrats, and he has recently changed his party registration."

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