JUNEAU — Chugiak Republican Sen. Bill Stoltze announced Wednesday that he won't seek re-election this year, saying in a floor speech that he has health problems and doesn't know how to do "half-speed."
"I wouldn't be representing my district if I did half-speed," said Stoltze, who has diabetes.
Stoltze, 54, made the surprise announcement at the start of a Senate floor session Wednesday morning, leaving observers stunned.
Stoltze is a conservative institution in the Alaska Legislature, having spent 20 years as a legislative aide before being elected to the House in 2002 and the Senate in 2014.
His retirement will leave a hole in the Senate's Republican-led majority. His district, which includes Chugiak and parts of the Mat-Su, is represented in the House by Republican Reps. Shelley Hughes of Palmer and Cathy Tilton of Wasilla.
No other candidates have filed with the state to run for Stoltze's seat. He won his 2014 Senate race against Democrat Patricia Chesbro with 73 percent of the vote.