Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla) withdrew from the Republican majority caucus Wednesday after hours of debate on the Senate’s budget bill.

“When it gets to a point where you’re thinking we can reduce more, you’re thinking we can cut more, and you have just a different view of the Permanent Fund, for example, you have two choices. You could be a problem inside the caucus, you could be a problem for yourself, you could be a problem for your constituents,” said Dunleavy of his decision.

Dunleavy said he couldn’t support the Senate majority’s budget, traditionally a condition for maintaining membership in the caucus. The measure includes a 5 percent reduction to the University of Alaska and the departments of education, transportation, and health and social services.

The Wasilla lawmaker first voted “no” on the bill, but ended up voting “yes” during the final reconsideration vote, he says by mistake.

“I’ve been under the weather a little bit here the last couple days,” Dunleavy said. The senator is on the record as a “yes” vote for the budget bill. “I don’t know what to tell you there, I’m just telling you I’m a no vote,” he said.

Dunleavy said his decision to break ranks does not reflect a decision to run for governor.

“I’m not going to dismiss it, but that’s not what this is,” he told reporters.

Senate president Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) said he and the rest of the caucus would have to talk about whether to replace Dunleavy in the caucus. Dunleavy said he would keep additional staff and committee memberships associated with the majority caucus, if allowed.

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