Retired teacher Don Hadley said Wednesday he's dropping his East Anchorage Assembly bid and instead running for the Alaska House, a decision he said was based on "party unity."

Hadley, 73 and a Republican, said he's stepping aside to avoid competing with another Republican, Terre Gales, in a campaign to replace retiring Assembly member Paul Honeman. While the city election is nonpartisan, party affiliation tends to play a role in support and fundraising.

The other main candidate in the race is Forrest Dunbar, an attorney in the Army National Guard who ran for Congress as a Democrat against Don Young in 2014.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Hadley wouldn't say who asked him to change races. He would only say there was concern about two Republicans in the East Anchorage race.

"They wanted there to be only one Republican candidate," Hadley said. "And suggested that they would like to have me run for the House again, instead of running for Assembly."

Hadley said the issue had been brewing for some time but it "came to a head" on Tuesday. He said he spoke to Gales on the phone Tuesday night, and plans to support Gales in the future.

Gales, 33, is an Air Force veteran who works as a health and safety officer for the city's Public Works Department. He said Wednesday that he never asked Hadley to step aside, and that it's hard to say where Hadley's votes would go. But Gales said he appreciated Hadley's support.

"He's a really nice guy and I'll definitely be there to support him in his campaign," Gales said.

Hadley will be facing incumbent Rep. Max Gruenberg, a Democrat, in his bid for state House. He made unsuccessful runs against Gruenberg in both 2012 and 2014.

"We'll see if the third time's the charm," Hadley said.