Former fishing company CEO Larry Cotter has announced he will withdraw his candidacy for Senate District Q. (Courtesy photo)

Former fishing company CEO Larry Cotter has announced he will withdraw his candidacy for Senate District Q. (Courtesy photo)

Candidate drops out of race to replace Sen. Dennis Egan

One of the three candidates running for the Alaska Senate seat covering northern Southeast has dropped out of the race.

In an emailed statement Wednesday morning, independent candidate Larry Cotter said he is withdrawing his candidacy due to medical reasons.

“Just over a week ago, on Sunday, May 20, I suffered a pulmonary edema, a major health event,” Cotter wrote. “If it were not for the very capable Capital City Fire and Rescue EMTs and Bartlett Regional Hospital Emergency Room staff, it is unlikely that I would be alive today.”

Cotter said he believes that his health would become “a matter of discussion during the campaign” and distract from conversations about the issues facing Alaska.

“It is clear to me now that I will not be able to have that conversation given my health issues. Accordingly, I am withdrawing my candidacy effective immediately,” he said.

By phone, he said he came to the decision after beginning to draft a press release explaining his recent health emergency.

“As I thought through that process, I realized that’s going to have its own negativity,” he said, and distract from other discussions.

Added to the recent emergency was the fact that he had significant back surgery last month, and he is still moving around with the assistance of a walker.

On Monday, he had a talk with his wife and daughter, and he said they told him that the decision is his, but they wanted him to prioritize his health and family first.

“I have to take that advice,” Cotter said.

Cotter was the first person to file a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission to replace Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau. Egan announced earlier this year that he will not seek re-election.

Cotter’s withdrawal leaves two candidates still in the race: former Egan staffer (and current Juneau Assembly member) Jesse Kiehl, and former lobbyist Don Etheridge.

“I regret that he’s got health problems and wish him the best in recovery and hope all goes well,” Etheridge said.

He added that he has some idea what Cotter is going through: During Etheridge’s last run for the Juneau Assembly, he was fighting cancer and had to fly to Seattle every three weeks for treatment.

“I know how it is,” he said.

Kiehl, reached by phone on Wednesday morning, wished Cotter well.

“It’s too bad,” he said. “Larry and I were looking forward to a lot of good conversations this fall.”

The filing deadline for the statewide election is 5 p.m. Friday.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at or 523-2258.

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