It’s official: Rep. Les Gara says he’s not running for re-election

Rep. Les Gara snaps a selfie during his final group photo of the Alaska Legislature.

Long-time Anchorage Rep. Les Gara has finally announced that he will not be running for re-election.

The Democrat announced last month that he was considering retirement from the Alaska Legislature after 16 years in office, inviting candidates to file for the party’s primary ahead of the filing deadline. Three candidates filed for the seat–Zack Fields, Elias Rojas and Cliff Groh–but once last Friday’s filing deadline passed, Gara was still officially filed to appear in the primary.

The move caused plenty of consternation among Democrats, who had been readying for one of the party’s most contentious primaries in recent history. Even if Gara stayed, it sounded like some candidates would stay in the primary regardless.

But a contested primary including Gara was not meant to be.

In a newsletter today, Gara announced that he would, in fact, be withdrawing from the race.

“I’ve chosen, after going back and forth many times, not to run for re-election,” he wrote.

Gara had been openly recruiting candidates for the race in the last few weeks, so the retirement is expected. Still, his letter expresses some regret that the field of candidates is not more diverse.

“Disappointingly, every woman I asked said no, or ‘not a chance,’ or ‘no way,’ or used unprintable words that basically meant ‘not in a million years,'” he wrote. “Too many of the right people aren’t interested in this job and I hope this newsletter might change some minds, for some day in the future. There are many of you I don’t know or haven’t run into who’d do a great job at improving life for others.”

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