Co-Chair of House Finance Bill Stoltze announced on Friday to a crowd of about 200 at the Senior Center in Palmer that he’s running for state Senate. The seat is a newly created one that will take part of Sen. Fred Dyson’s Eagle River district and join it to the Valley. Much of it will encompass Chugiak, where Stoltze lives and has represented since 2002.
Candidates for the seat so far include Edna DeVries, the former state legislator and current Palmer City Council member, and current Palmer Mayor Delena Johnson, who filed to run in mid-December and for whom Stoltze actively campaigned in her last mayor’s race. Stoltze, a tireless campaigner, is favored in the race.
Stoltze will miss the House, he said, which is more egalitarian than the Senate. However, he’s looking to switch chambers because it’s the best thing for the Valley, he said, which deserves the “best possible representation.”
It’s unknown who will run for Stoltze’s House seat.
The move will change the dynamics of the House leadership. There was a possibility that Stoltze would angle to be the Speaker next session, a position that’s chosen by the majority caucus. Now it looks like Rep. Craig Johnson will emerge as one of the front runners for Speaker if he wants it. Some speculate that Rep. Mike Hawker will try to get one of the co-chairmanships of the Finance Committee, replacing Stoltze.
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