Ex-Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan drops out of Senate race

It was fun while it lasted — imagining the confusing possibility of Alaska being represented in the U.S. Senate by two guys named Dan Sullivan.

But it is not to be. Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan released a statement Thursday, through the state Republican Party, saying he has reconsidered and won't challenge Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the August primary after all.

Sullivan said he filed to run — just 10 minutes before close of business on the June 1 deadline — because he had been asked to run by "conservative leaders" who remain unnamed, and wanted to keep his options open while he "vetted whether or not that would be the best path forward for my family and for Alaska," he said in the statement.

The move is likely to leave Murkowski with an easier primary race, without a more conservative candidate with substantial name recognition and funding prodding her about her more moderate stances on issues like abortion and gay rights. In 2010, Murkowski lost the Republican primary to Joe Miller by just over 2,000 votes, and then squeaked out a win in the general election by mounting an historic write-in campaign.

The ex-mayor's decision to withdraw remains a bit of a mystery, as he noted his two-week exploration uncovered "significant financial support available from individuals and organizations for conservative candidates like myself," and polling showed "this primary could be extremely competitive."

Sullivan did not explain his decision to drop out, other than saying he believes he "can best serve Alaska by staying in Alaska and working on local and statewide issues." He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

And he may be back: Sullivan said his supporters can be assured he may still run for some other office in the future.

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is a former reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Washington, D.C.