After Sen. Dunleavy (R-Wasilla) announced plans to vacate his seat in the Alaska Senate to focus on the state governor's race, a sitting House member says he plans to throw his hat in the ring for the position. 

Rep. George Rauscher (R-Sutton) represents one of the two House Districts that comprise Dunleavy’s Senate seat. On Sunday, Rauscher told KTVA Sunday he plans to apply for the Senate seat.

“The people in these districts need an almost seamless transition from a legislator who has a proven track record of being able to work with his colleagues in Juneau for the cohesiveness and the benefit of what is actually going in favor of our district, “ Rauscher said.

“Providing a legislator who must learn on the fly and with a responsibility of organizing a team of staff members, and not being able to walk their district and familiarize themselves with the existing problems this district faces, the in and outs of Juneau, and the process down there, with less than a year of term left, is unfair to our constituents and it’s a recipe for ineffectiveness," Rauscher added.

If Rauscher were appointed to replace Dunleavy, the Alaska Republican Party would then begin searching for his replacement in the House. Rauscher says that would be a less cumbersome task than finding a qualified candidate for Dunleavy’s Senate seat.

“I think it’s probably easier to find somebody to represent a smaller area then to find somebody that can represent an area twice this size that never has,” Rauscher said. “You’re more likely to come up with a very fit candidate to represent one smaller district than two large districts.”

Mat-Su Borough Assembly member Randall Kowalke filed letter of intent to run for Dunleavy’s seat on New Year’s Eve. Kowalke says he will now apply to replace Dunleavy in the months leading up the election. Regardless of whether he’s chosen, Kowalke says he still intends to run for the Senate seat in the November election.

Dunleavy is expected to make a formal announcement regarding the effective date of his resignation, according to Alaska GOP Chairman, Tuckerman Babcock. Once the Senate seat is vacated, Gov. Bill Walker will have 30 days to appoint a replacement. 

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