Longtime Juneau Democrat Kim Elton resigned from the state Senate on Monday to take a job as director of Alaska affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior.
"This job is the funnel through which the Alaska issues are going to be addressed," Elton said in an interview after an emotional farewell speech in the Senate.
Gov. Sarah Palin will appoint Elton's replacement in the state Senate. Elton and Democratic Party leaders are pushing for House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula to get the nod. But Kerttula has been sharply critical of the governor since her run as Republican nominee for vice president last fall.
Palin and Elton have also been at odds, and Palin greeted the announcement of Elton's new job with the terse declaration that "Senator Elton pledged his allegiance to President Obama last summer." Palin also said in her written statement that she hopes Elton will use the job to Alaska's benefit.
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Elton supported Obama in the presidential race. He also had a central role in the Legislature's "Troopergate" investigation of Palin, and the governor's surrogates accused Elton and other Democrats of playing partisan politics with it.
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