Nonpartisan candidate Evan Eads has withdrawn from the race for Senate District B and thrown his support behind fellow nonpartisan candidate Marna Sanford.
The Senate seat, encompassing areas like Goldstream, some areas of Fox, Farmers Loop, areas of East Fairbanks and all of North Pole, is currently held by North Pole Republican Sen. John Coghill, who lost the Republican primary to Robert Myers in August.
Eads announced his decision at the League of Women Voters of the Tanana Valley candidate forum Friday night. The event was livestreamed on local radio station KUAC.
This was not an easy decision, Eads told the Daily News-Miner Saturday afternoon.
"But sometimes what's right and what's easy don't always match up," he said.
Eads ran his campaign with a particular focus on the state's resources, pushing to rewrite policy to provide more revenue from resource development to fund state services. This was an area Eads said he felt he found common ground with Sanford.
"She has said she will vote for [Ballot Measure] 1 and that’s something. That was a bridge for me," Eads said. "It isn’t that me and Marna agree on everything, but we agree on this. I will support her fully and she knows she has my full support."
Ballot Measure 1 is an initiative that will be on the Nov. 3 ballot that seeks to rewrite Alaska's oil and gas tax credit system and increase taxes on the three largest oil fields on the North Slope to provide, according to supporters, an estimated $1 billion to $2 billion more in revenue to the state.
Eads has pushed hard during his campaign on the issue of changing how the state approaches resource revenue and was comforted that Sanford has agreed to collaborate with him on the issue.
Eads noted he doesn't ideologically match up with either of his previous opponents, the other being Republican candidate Robert Myers, who supports further reductions in state spending to shrink the deficit.
That was an idea that Eads could not support.
"I wouldn't even call it an idea, more an ideology. It's grievous and it's not a plan," Eads said. "We’re facing social and economic winter regardless of who is elected. But if we get the right people elected, then that will be the surest way to shorten that winter. Politics is a matter of what’s possible, and she was the only one of the two candidates that was willing to work with me on the resource issue and that is the issue we’re facing with this election."
Eads said he had been considering the decision for a few days leading up to the forum and finally made the decision Friday with the support of his family.
The fact that the forum was livestreamed on the local radio was an intentional choice of when to drop the bomb, Eads said. He also wanted to make sure he announced his withdrawal from the race before early voting begins next week.
He had already made a post announcing his backing of Sanford on his official campaign Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts by Saturday morning.
Sanford's campaign issued a news release Saturday morning in which Sanford expressed gratitude for Eads' support.
“I am humbled by Evan’s support and have an enormous amount of respect for the amount of work he put into this race. We cannot deny the toll it takes on the candidates, their families, and their personal lives,” Sanford said. “The choice now before voters is an interesting one. My remaining opponent supports cutting our university, one-quarter of our education budget, health care, and so many other vital services Alaskans depend on while on the other hand saying he supports those same programs. We can’t afford shaky leadership, we need experienced and responsible legislators down in Juneau.”
Eads' name will still appear on that ballots, which have already been printed. However, Eads said he will be making an ardent effort to get information out to the voters that he is no longer running and that any voters who had supported him should now support Sanford.
For Myers, the announcement was not a surprise and doesn't change much of his campaign plan, he told the Daily News-Miner Saturday.
"With the two of them kind of splitting the vote in a lot of ways, in some ways I was a little surprised it hadn’t happened earlier," he said. "As far as I’m concerned, it’s just one liberal endorsing another liberal. It doesn’t change my game plan."
Both Eads and Sanford are registered as nonpartisan candidates, neither of whom chose to run in the Democratic primary, each citing a need to stand behind their own political banner.
Sanford called Myers' statement a "baseless" attack.
"No one should make assumptions about me or my politics until they talk to me," she said.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough assembly member said she is cautiously optimistic about how Eads' withdrawal from the race will affect her chances of making it to Juneau in the spring.
"The folks I’ve been talking to, this is everyone from different political backgrounds, they’re seeing me as that candidate, an independent candidate that can bring the district together," Sanford sad.
The general election is Nov. 3.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.