JUNEAU -- Veteran Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, says he plans to retire this year rather than run against Sen. Anna Fairclough in the Republican primary.
Dyson, 75, was first elected to the House in 1996 and to the Senate in 2002. This year, the Alaska Redistricting Board tossed him into the same district as Anna Fairclough, also an Eagle River Republican. If both ran, they'd have to face off in August for the District G seat.
Fairclough joined the Senate in 2012 after three two-year terms in the House.
"I'm a real fan of hers," Dyson said Wednesday while taking a break at a Senate Resources Committee hearing, where both serve. "She's very bright, she works really hard, and I've seen her show integrity and courage. I think she has some principles that she sticks to, but she doesn't run off the mouth like me."
Dyson, with his deep gravely voice, has been one of the Legislature's older-generation conservatives and a staunch opponent of abortion rights. He was in the Senate's minority and out of power through 2012 -- the period in which the chamber was governed by a bipartisan coalition that spanned the usual ideological divides of right and left.
But with the Republican-dominated majority that took over in 2013, Dyson became chairman of the State Affairs Committee and vice chairman of Resources.
Lately he's had health problems. He missed the first week of this session after undergoing surgery to remove his thymus, a small immune-system organ in the chest.
"I've had some health issues, my memory is getting worse," Dyson said. "Hey, I'm 75 years old. If I ran again, I'd be 80, for crying out loud."
Dyson said the only thing that could change his mind about retiring would be if Fairclough decides not to run and her replacement didn't meet his expectations. Otherwise, he plans to remain in Alaska with his wife, Jane, and look for some other public service.
"I'll die here," he said.
Dyson would be the second long-term incumbent senator that Fairclough has replaced. In the 2012 election, she knocked off Sen. Bettye Davis, a Democrat with 22 years in the Legislature. That election was held under the 2012 redistricting plan that shifted Davis from a safe Democratic seat in East Anchorage to a largely Republican one in Eagle River.
The Alaska Supreme Court ruled the 2012 redistricting plan was unconstitutional, but allowed the election to go ahead because time had run out to redraw districts.
Reach Richard Mauer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 500-7388.