In an effort to solely focus on his run for governor, Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla) told members of the Republican party he will be resigning from his seat in the Alaska Senate, according to Alaska Republican Party Chair Tuckerman Babcock

Monday morning, Dunleavy sent a formal resignation letter to Senate President Pete Kelly. In an official statement Dunleavy said:

“For the last five years, it’s been an honor and privilege to represent my constituents in the Legislature. I have striven to faithfully advocate for their values and priorities, and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.

“Yet I’ve come to the conclusion that without new leadership in the Governor’s office, there is a practical limit to what any individual or caucus in the Legislature can achieve to turn this state around. I believe the best way I can effectively advocate for my constituents’ values is to devote 100 percent of my time and energy to the cause of ensuring that Alaska elects a new Governor in 2018. I am accordingly resigning from my seat in the State Senate.

During a meeting Saturday night, Sen. Mike Dunleavy told members of his party that he will be giving up his seat and will make an official announcement on Monday, Babcock confirmed to KTVA Sunday afternoon. Babcock calls Dunleavy's resignation a "strong sign" he's taking the governor's race seriously.  

“I think it's very wise to let people know that you're very serious about it and that means that we have to get busy with our local districts 9 and 10 in preparing for recommending a replacement,” Babcock said. "We can send out notice before there's a vacancy, we just can't nominate someone."

In the meantime, the party will schedule a meeting to consider potential candidates. The party has 14 days from the time the seat is vacated, to give three names to Gov. Bill Walker. From the time Dunleavy leaves his seat, Walker has 30 days to appoint a replacement. 

Babcock said the party will try to fill the seat as quickly as possible, adding the party hopes to launch a bid for applications early this week. 

Liz Raines contributed to this story.

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