The Juneau Empire reported this morning that Juneau Rep. Justin Parish, D-Juneau, has dropped out of the election, making him the third of three Juneau legislators who will call this their final year in the Legislature.
Parish told the Juneau Empire that he’s stepping aside so his former legislative aide and current Juneau Assemblyman Rob Edwardson can run as an independent in the Alaska Democratic Party’s primary.
“I’ve said all along that it’s my responsibility to run again unless someone better throws their hat into the ring,” Parish told the paper. “After a number of conversations with Rob, I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s the right guy for the job.”
Parish’s departure means that Juneau and the surrounding area will have a completely new slate of legislators when the Legislature returns to session in 2019.
Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, announced plans to retire because of health problems. Rep. Sam Kito, D-Juneau, announced he wouldn’t seek re-election because of changes to how legislators living near session are compensated.
All three Juneau legislators plan to finish their terms.
Parish won his seat in the 2016 election by beating former Republican Rep. Cathy Muñoz in a controversy-riddled election. The Empire uncovered and reported on politically damaging letters Muñoz wrote on behalf of defendants in two child sex abuse cases. Up until that point, it wasn’t widely expected that Parish would have a shot for Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley seat.
Edwardson, if he wins the primary, will likely face fellow Juneau Assemblyman and Juneau Vice Mayor Jerry Nankervis, who is running as a Republican. Legislative rules bar legislative aides from campaigning while employed so Edwardson’s last day in the office was Friday and he filed paperwork to run on Monday, the Empire reported.