From Sean Cockerham in Juneau --
Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell just announced he won't be running to keep the office in this year's election.
“Last year, prior to my appointment as Lieutenant Governor, I had intended to retire from the Alaska National Guard at the end of 2010 to pursue other career interests. While I am deeply honored that Governor Palin had the confidence in me to be our state’s Lieutenant Governor, my family and I have decided to pursue other opportunities. Therefore, I have asked the State Division of Elections to withdraw my name as a candidate for office in the upcoming August primary election,” Campbell said in a written statement sent out this afternoon.
Campbell was commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs before being appointed lieutenant governor this summer. He took the lieutenant governor’s job from Sean Parnell, who became governor when Sarah Palin resigned.
Campbell said in an interview today that he enjoyed being a commissioner and likes running organizations. Campbell said he decided that was the direction he’d rather go in than running to become the lieutenant governor for the next four years.
“I didn’t have a passion that I really felt I wanted to do this for the next few years,” he said.
Campbell said he doesn’t have a job lined up. Political insiders immediately speculated he might be in line to be CEO of the Alaska Railroad, a job coming open as Pat Gamble becomes president of the University of Alaska. Campbell said he’s heard that rumor but hasn’t been approached by anyone at the railroad or enquired about the position.
He said he’s been talking with his wife about not running for lieutenant governor long before the railroad job came open, although he said he’ll probably now consider pursuing the position.
Campbell said he wanted to get out of the race well before the June 1 filing deadline in order to give others a chance to get in the race if they want.
His announcement comes just hours after former talk radio host Eddie Burke filed to run against Campbell and Fairbanks Rep. Jay Ramras in the August Republican primary. Burke said today he filed to run for lieutenant governor because he’d heard Campbell was going to get out of the race.
“I heard he was making this move and therefore wanted to provide a conservative choice for Alaskans, because Jay Ramras is a big government liberal Republican,” Burke said.
Asked how he’d heard about Campbell, Burke said “it’s a small state and word travels.” He said he never spoke to Campbell about it, and there was no coordination between the two.
Ramras said today he was surprised Campbell was getting out of the race. “It doesn’t change my mission of running a very focused, aggressive campaign…bringing a skill set to the position that will help Alaskans,” he said.
Diane Benson is running for lieutenant governor as a Democrat.