Torgerson won't seek re-election

Two-term lawmaker from Kasilof does not rule out run for borough mayor

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Sen. John Torgerson, R-Kasilof, announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election to another term in the Alaska Senate.

"Eight years ago, almost to the day, I stood in front of you and announced my intention to run for the state Senate," Torgerson told a Soldotna Chamber of Commerce luncheon audience. "Today, I have a different announcement. (I have decided) not to seek re-election to the Senate seat."

The two-term senator said he'd reached the decision to call it quits following long discussions with his wife, Marjorie, and other family members. His term does not end until January 2003, and he said he will continue representing his constituents until then.

There has been speculation in recent months that Torgerson would either seek re-election or announce a run for mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough. A Senate run now appears out the door, but months remain before the August filing period for borough mayor arrives, and he specifically did not eschew a campaign to unseat incumbent Mayor Dale Bagley next fall. Bagley announced his bid for re-election earlier this month.

"I want to concentrate on getting (Sen.) Frank Murkowski and (former Alaska House Speaker) Gail Phillips elected governor and lieutenant governor, and continue my work on the (gas) pipeline and the committee that I formulated and try to get the Alaska gas line in order so that work can be done," he said. "Other than that, all options are open."

Torgerson, who chairs the Joint Committee on Natural Gas Pipelines, said he will focus his attention on moving a gas pipeline project forward. Once out of office, he said he'd consider any job offers to continue pushing the pipeline.

"There are no offers on the table for me to do anything," he said. "I would certainly look at something. I have a lot of expertise in that field, but I don't have any offers right now."

And if Murkowski is elected governor, would he consider a job in a Murkowski administration?

"We haven't had that discussion, but I would certainly entertain that," he said. "Clearly, Frank needs some Alaskans to help him on the gas line and some other things. He's got a good handle on the Washington, D.C., thing, but I think he could use my expertise on the Alaska side of things."

While in office, he said, 21 pieces of legislation bearing his name became law.

"Some were minor," he said, recalling a bill to make the moose the state mammal, a request from students at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School, which he said had been "probably the most fun I've ever had on a bill." Others were pitched battles, including Senate Bill 36, passed in 1998, which rewrote the foundation formula by which school districts are funded. He called it "the hardest bill I've ever had to do."

He told the audience he has enjoyed his eight years in office.

"This really has been an honor for me to represent you in Juneau, selected by you to go down and do that," he said. "It's not like I'm leaving. It's like I'm coming home."

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