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Harris pulls out of governor's race

Rena Delbridge

Harris said he hasn't decided whether he will run for re-election to his House of Representatives seat.

The Republican from Valdez filed a letter with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Friday afternoon withdrawing his letter of intent to run for governor in the November election.

Harris, who represents District 12 in the state House, said his family and his constituents take priority over a gubernatorial bid.

He cited a strong line-up of three Republicans highly engaged in the contest, but wouldn't endorse another candidate.

"You have three candidates in there already, three very good ones, and one's an incumbent," Harris said. "Timing is everything in politics. I've been a recipient of good timing and of not so good timing, and I've also been in it (politics) long enough to know right now is not the right time."

Harris, who has a long family history in Valdez, said candidate Bill Walker of Valdez is a good friend. He also is close to contender Ralph Samuels, with whom Harris served six years in the state Legislature. And, Harris said he's got nothing against incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell.

"I've determined, along with my family, that our number-one objective is to serve the people of our district the best I can as a legislator, and also to make sure the issues of our family are taken care of," Harris said in a phone interview.

Valdez Mayor Bert Cottle, a Democrat, has filed to run for the House District 12 seat.

In the letter of intent to run that Harris filed with APOC months ago, he provided an Anchorage address.

Turns out that Harris has homes in Anchorage and in Valdez, 305 miles to the east. His wife and 10-year-old son live in Anchorage, where his son has attended school for the past three years. Harris spends time in both cities, but finds it convenient to get mail at only one location, he said.

"I am a registered voter in Valdez, I own property in Valdez, my mother, brother and sister live in Valdez," he said. "I have long and sustainable ties in Valdez, but I don't spend as much time there as I used to, simply because my family lives in Anchorage."

Harris is a Teamster by trade who spent some of last summer driving trucks up the Dalton Highway to serve the North Slope. First elected to the state Legislature in 1998, he was Speaker of the House from 2005 to 2008.