Republicans seek to replace Kohring

Mat-Su politicians vie for indicted lawmaker's seat

Posted: Monday, July 09, 2007

WASILLA - A handful of Republicans have stepped forward to offer themselves as replacements for Rep. Vic Kohring.

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Kohring faces federal charges of bribery and extortion. He announced his resignation in June and will leave office this month.

Kohring's two-year term ends in 2008. District 14 Republicans are expected to send a list of three suggested replacements to Gov. Sarah Palin at the end of the week.

Wasilla City Councilman Steve Menard and former Councilwoman Colleen Sullivan-Leonard both want to be the state's newest House representative. Both work on Palin's staff.

They said they do not expect their ties to the governor's office to earn them special consideration. They have applied to the District 14 Republicans and not the governor.

"I'm not going to circumvent the system," said Sullivan-Leonard, the daughter of former Anchorage Mayor George Sullivan and a former legislative aide to Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer.

Darroll Hargraves, a longtime educator, last fall supported the Democratic challenger for District 14 and was already mounting a campaign to run against Kohring in 2008. Hargraves said his lack of support for Kohring does not mean he will lack of support for the Republican platform. He believes in standing by the best candidate, regardless of party affiliation, he said.

"In the last two campaigns I've supported other people," he said. "If you're a quality candidate, I'll support you. From my viewpoint that's good, solid Republican conservatism."

Hargraves called himself a lifelong Republican whose conservatism surpassed Kohring's.

Steve Colligan leads the District 14 Republican selection committee. He said the committee continues to pull together possible replacements and has solicited written applications.

"We've got a pretty rigorous process," Colligan said.

The five or six people Colligan expects the committee to interview are well-qualified, he said.

The final decision "might be pretty close," he said. "It's encouraging."

The committee is looking for a candidate willing to run for the post again in 2008 rather than just be a seat-warmer, selection committee member Greg Koskela said.

District 14 Republicans will take applications through Wednesday.

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