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Mike Miller drops primary challenge to Click Bishop in Fairbanks Senate race

Richard Mauer

After filing as a last-minute Republican primary challenger to Sen. Click Bishop just before the June 2 deadline, former Sen. Mike Miller has withdrawn as a candidate in Bishop's Fairbanks and North Pole district.

Miller said Tuesday he discovered at a long meeting with Bishop that the two shared ideas on resource development and budgetary restraint.

"We didn't talk about that much on social issues," said Miller, who was one of the most conservative members of the Legislature when he served from 1983 to 2000. "There are probably certain votes we might have disagreed on."

Miller, who runs Santa Claus House in North Pole, said supporters had urged him to stay in the race for the Senate C district, one of three Senate districts in the Fairbanks area. But Miller said he believed his presence on the primary ticket would be a "distraction" in a bigger election, that involving U.S. Sen. Mark Begich. Three Republicans are contesting the primary for the chance to run against Begich, a Democrat.

Bishop was Labor Commissioner in Gov. Sarah Palin's administration. In his freshman term in the Legislature, he joined with other moderate Republicans to block votes on some of the most conservative issues in Juneau, such as a constitutional amendment on school vouchers and an effort to pack the judge-picking Judicial Council with political appointees.

Bishop has a Democratic challenger, Dorothy Shockley of Fairbanks.

In the Mat-Su, Democrat Mikse Willoya-Marx has withdrawn from the Senate race against freshman incumbent Republican Mike Dunleavy, the leading sponsor of the voucher amendment. Dunleavy still has a challenger: independent Warren Keogh of Chickaloon, a former Mat-Su Borough Assembly member.

Reach Richard Mauer at rmauer@adn.com or (907) 257-4345.