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Monday, October 22, 2018
HomePolitics and PolicyDunleavy resigning to focus on campaign

Dunleavy resigning to focus on campaign

Sen. Mike Dunleavy is stepping down from the Alaska Senate so he can focus on his race for governor.

He covered his district from Glennallen to Palmer on Saturday, visiting with people in the district and at the local Republican district conventions. He talked to “his employers” — the people he represents — about the decision.

Dunleavy was also featured along with gubernatorial candidate Scott Hawkins at a Republican event on Saturday night, where he spoke to 80 people at a fundraiser and auction for the party.


Dunleavy represents Senate District E and his term ends in January 2019. Even if he didn’t resign, he would not represent this district next year. But by stepping aside now, he will focus on fundraising, something he would otherwise be prohibited from doing once the legislative session started on Jan. 16, and something that is essential for any competitive candidate.

State law prevents sitting legislators from raising funds while the Legislature is in session, a problem that Rep. Mike Chenault faces in his run for governor.

The prohibition likely factored in to Sen. Charlie Huggins’ retirement from the Senate last year, as he is also a candidate for governor. Ironically, the sitting governor himself is under no such restrictions.

Tuckerman Babcock, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, says that under the party’s rules, (Article 1, Section 8), the district committees of the affected areas — House Districts 9 and 10 — will meet, notify the public of the vacancy, gather applications, verify the candidates’ qualification, and forward three names to the governor. The governor will make his pick, which then must be confirmed by Republican members of the Senate.

Mat-Su Borough Assembly member Randall Kowalke has already filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission for the District E seat as a candidate for the August primary.

Pam Goode of Delta Junction has filed as a candidate, but has not indicated whether she’s trying for the House or Senate. She recently returned to the Republican Party after being a registered member of the Alaska Constitution Party.

Rep. George Rauscher and Rep. David Eastman are both considering applying for appointment to Dunleavy’s seat. Rauscher confirmed late Saturday that he will be submitting his letter of interest to the party’s district leaders when Dunleavy made an announcement. Eastman said he was talking to people in the district and had not made up his mind.

Last year, during the budget deliberations in the Senate, Dunleavy removed himself from the Republican Majority caucus over a disagreement about whether to cut the Permanent Fund dividend that Alaskans receive each year. Two years ago, Gov. Bill Walker cut the dividend in half, and during 2017, the Senate continued the practice. Dunleavy has been an advocate of fully funding the dividend under the previous formula.

Dunleavy earlier this week announced he had hired campaign staff of Brett Huber for his campaign manager and Amanda Price as deputy campaign manager. He appears to be 100 percent committed to his campaign, which is why it comes as no surprise that he is withdrawing from the Senate before session starts on Jan. 17.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Got to give him credit allowing someone else to represent his District while he tilts at windmills.
    PS I hope his health continues to improve.

    • Oh, I think Dunleavy would be an excellent choice for the Republican Party. It’s not tilting at windmills.

      • Im sorry, Mike fails in the reality-check department. I point specifically to his call for a constitutional amendment to enshrine the dividend. Sheer foolishness and not conservative at all.

      • Dunleavy winning the Republican primary? Not gonna happen.

  • Given that the governor is running hard for re-election every day and that he can keep the legislature in Juneau most of the year – especially during the compressed period between the primary and general elections – this is the only realistic choice for a legislator running for governor this year. After all, Walker has kept the legislature meeting and mostly in Juneau for much of the past two years, and once again Walker has introduced a budget badly out of balance and predicated on an income tax. What that formula has meant for the legislative sessions thus far would pretty much preclude a sitting legislator from running for governor this year. So Mike made the right choice. We very much need to be rid of Bill Walker!

  • DUNLEAVY 2018 !!

  • I hope my old district doesn’t put forth a moderate like Kowalke. We now have two candidates who will be PFD protectors. The District 10 Convention is Saturday. Only 10$ your fellow neighbors in your District Convention on January 13 from 9 am to 3 pm at Willow Community Center. Lunch is included with the $10 fee. SheldonforAlaska.Com An Alaskan Candidate for all Alaskan’s and PFD protector.

  • Dunleavy is an advocate of fully funding the Dividend under the “current” program. And he also proposes that the amounts “deducted” the previous two years be returned to the People.

  • Right now I can’t decide between Dunleavey and Huggins.

    As the season progresses, I look forward to Suzanne’s research on all the candidates to help us decide.

  • Suzanne, just wanted to point out that your statement that “Dunleavy removed himself from the Republican Majority caucus over a disagreement about whether to cut the Permanent Fund dividend” is only partially true. His decision was as much about the budget as the PFD. He has continually advocated for a smaller budget. Here is the statement he made after the event: “As many of you may have heard, I withdrew from the Senate Majority Caucus last week before the vote on the Senate’s version of the operating budget. My reason for withdrawing from the caucus, a caucus that I have been part of since I was first elected to the Senate five years ago, was because I could not support the budget before us. I was hoping for more reductions and did not believe a formula to reduce the dividend should have been imbedded within the budget document.”

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  • I wish more politicians would do this, you cannot run for a higher office and represent your constituency at the same time. I also wish the Senator would have done this when he first announced he was re-entering the race. I understand the reasoning behind his decision, but now it will throw a seat in the Senate into chaos and will potentially throw a seat in the House into chaos with less than a week before the 90 day session. Great decision, bad timing.

    I told Senator Dunleavy that he had my support for Governor before he announced he was running if he decided to run, and he still has that support.

  • Session starts the 16th, but whatev, you just post the facts as you see them.