JUNEAU -- Sen. Drue Pearce, an Anchorage Republican, announced Saturday she is leaving the Senate to take a job in Washington, D.C.
Pearce said she's not free yet to discuss details of the new job. She would only say she'll be continuing to influence Washington decisions that affect Alaska, but from inside the Beltway.
It has been rumored for months that Pearce was being considered for a job in the Bush administration.
Pearce announced her planned departure on the Senate floor at the close of a special legislative session on cruise ship legislation.
"It has been a true privilege and honor to represent the people of Anchorage these 17 years," Pearce said. "I am proud that Alyce Hanley and I were the first two women elected to represent a district in Alaska and I'm proud that while I have served, women -- including me -- have served in every leadership position in the Legislature."
Pearce was Senate president 1995-1996 and 1999-2000, has been co-chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee and this year is chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee.
Senate President Rick Halford, a Chugiak Republican, said the procedure for replacing a departing senator is that Republicans in her district will forward a list of names to Gov. Tony Knowles who will appoint the replacement. That appointment must be confirmed by Senate Republicans, Halford said.
Republican Reps. Andrew Halcro and Norm Rokeberg are the two House members who live in Pearce's Senate district, and both said they are interested in the job.
Neither Halford nor Knowles would comment on likely candidates for the job. Halford did say governors have traditionally tried to appoint a candidate who's not interested in running again for the seat.
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