House Rep. Paul Seaton of Homer is taking a new route this election cycle. Seaton has represented House District 31 on the Kenai Peninsula as a Republican since 2002, but he filed Thursday to run as a non-partisan candidate in the Democratic primary.
This comes roughly six months after the state Republican Party unsuccessfully tried to block Seaton and two other House Republicans, Anchorage Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux and Rep. Louise Stutes of Kodiak, from the party’s primary this year.
“The Republican establishment wanted to select who could run in their primary, among Republicans even,” Seaton said. “That does not seem like a good status or a way to operate in a democracy.”
Seaton adds the internal conflict ultimately led to his decision to run in the Democratic primary.
The Republican Party argued in December that it could exclude candidates from its primary because of a court decision that allows non-partisan candidates to run in Democratic primaries.
The state Division of Elections ultimately denied the party’s request, but Seaton said the party has shifted too far right and away from his views.
“I was a Republican for 50 years, and with the things going on now, I’ve decided that I change to non-partisan,” he said.
Republican Party leaders have targeted Seaton, LeDuoux and Stutes since they joined a bipartisan coalition made up of mostly democrats in 2016, which took control of the House away from Republicans. The party also pulled its support for Seaton and the other two lawmakers that year.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, Seaton was the only candidate to file for the Democratic primary in the district. Sarah Vance of Homer, John Cox of Anchor Point and Henry Kroll of Soldotna have all filed to run in the Republican primary. The deadline to file is was 5 p.m. Friday.
Correction: A previous version said Seaton filed as an independent candidate. He filed as a non-partisan candidate in the Democratic primary.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect comments from Seaton.