Mulder will not seek re-election

Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Rep. Eldon Mulder, the influential co-chairman of the House Finance Committee, will not seek re-election, he said Thursday.

Mulder, the House GOP majority's chief budget writer whose cozy relationship with lobbyists often pockmarked his career, told the Associated Press that he plans to retire after 10 years in the House.

Mulder, 44, said he wants to provide a more stable lifestyle for his two daughters, who attend parochial school in Anchorage.

His daughters Corey, 10, and MacKenzie, 7, attend Anchorage Christian School. But during his five terms in the House, Mulder enrolled them in Juneau schools during the five-month legislative session.

''It just came down to a matter of my desire and recognition that my girls be in a stable environment,'' Mulder said.

A new redistricting map had pitted Mulder against the more moderate Rep. Lisa Murkowski in the Aug. 27 Republican primary.

Murkowski is the daughter of U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, who himself is seen as a front-runner for the GOP nomination to governor.

Lisa Murkowski is seeking election in House District 18, which encompasses parts of Government Hill, Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson.

Mulder denied that a primary battle with Murkowski influenced his decision to step down.

He said he will assist Frank Murkowski's campaign and remain active in legislative races in an effort to retain a Republican majority in the Legislature.

Republicans hold a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate but are expected to lose seats in this year's election.

Mulder was first elected in 1992 and became a chairman of the House Finance Committee four years ago. Mulder exercised influence over all fiscal matters in the House.

Mulder was the first of his freshman class in 1992 to be fined by the Alaska Public Offices Commission after a citizen's complaint about campaign violations.

Mulder also faced scrutiny for his wife's lobbying activities while he was in the House. His wife, Wendy Mulder, continues to work for prominent lobbyist Joe Hayes while the Legislature is in session.

Last year, Eldon Mulder was cleared of wrongdoing by the House Select Committee on Legislative Ethics for pushing a bill to benefit the cruise ship industry, which employed Hayes as its lobbyist.

But the panel concluded he used ''poor judgment'' and recommended he and members of his staff attend ethics training.

Mulder said he has enjoyed his time in the Legislature and has not ruled out becoming a lobbyist in the future.

State law requires lawmakers to wait at least a year before they undertake lobbying activities before the Legislature.

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