JUNEAU (AP) -- Sen. Sean Parnell, a leader in the Legislature's Republican majority, announced Monday that he won't seek re-election.
After eight years in the House and Senate, Parnell, R-Anchorage, said he and his wife, Sandy, wanted to stop moving his young family back and forth between Anchorage and Juneau each year.
''At this juncture in our lives, we simply desire to live together in one place year round,'' said Parnell, the co-chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
Parnell, 37, has two daughters, Grace, 8, and Rachel, 5. When the girls were younger, moving twice a year was less of a hardship, Parnell said. Now it involves uprooting them from their schools and friends.
Parnell also plans to devote more time to his private law practice in Anchorage.
''I'm going up to citizen status,'' Parnell said.
Parnell considered a bid for lieutenant governor two years ago, but decided against it. On Monday, he would not rule out a future run for higher office.
''I'm not even going to speculate on the future,'' Parnell said. ''I'm open to opportunities.''
As co-chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, Parnell deals with the state's operating budget.
Parnell is the fourth member of the Senate -- along with Al Adams, D-Kotzebue; Jerry Mackie, R-Craig; and Mike Miller, R-North Pole -- to announce he won't seek re-election this year.
House Rules Committee Chairman John Cowdery, who represents half of Parnell's district, promptly filed for the Senate seat.
''I've already signed up and paid my dues,'' said Cowdery, R-Anchorage.
GOP Rep. Con Bunde, who represents the other half of Parnell's district, expressed interest, but said he hadn't made a decision.
''I'm considering it,'' said Bunde, who is vice-chairman of the House Finance Committee and could rise in influence by staying in the House.
Cowdery's decision to seek a Senate seat brings the number of departing House members to six. Gary Davis, R-Soldotna; Ben Grussendorf, D-Sitka; and Gail Phillips, R-Homer, have announced plans to retire from the House. Alan Austerman, R-Kodiak, and Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, are seeking Senate seats.
Parnell's career in the Legislature began in 1992, when he won the first of three terms in the House. He won his Senate seat in 1996.
Born in Hanford, Calif., Parnell has lived in Anchorage since 1973.
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