Two big names in Alaska politics have jumped into the race for governor on today’s filing deadline.
The cutoff for candidates hoping to run in the fall election was 5 p.m. And joining the list of gubernatorial hopefuls getting in just under the wire today were former U.S. Senator Mark Begich and former Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell.Begich and Treadwell are among 10 others hoping to unseat incumbent Governor Bill Walker, who is running as an independent.
Begich, a Democrat, was mayor of Anchorage from 2003 to 2009, when he won a seat in the U.S. Senate, narrowly defeating longtime Senator Ted Stevens. Begich served one term, losing his reelection bid to current Senator Dan Sullivan in 2014.But now Begich is getting back into Alaska politics. He showed up at the Anchorage office of the division of elections and signed the paperwork to enterthe race at 4:29 this afternoon, pointing
out he had 31 minutes to spare.
“I see huge opportunity, but I don’t see a vision,” Begich said. “I don’t see where we’re headed in the next 20 years. I believe I can bring a new voice, a fresh voice to the governor’s race which I think is desperately needed.”
Begich’s late Friday filing to run in the Democratic primary convinced Walker, the incumbent governor, to not run in that primary election. Despite winning a court battle over whether he could enter the Democratic primary at all, Walker’s campaign spokesperson says he is “staying the course” and running only in the general.
That sets up what will ostensibly be a three-way race between Walker and the winners of
the Democratic and Republican primaries.Walker won in 2014 with strong support from Democrats, and his running mate is a Democrat. At the Division of Elections on Friday, a reporter asked Begich about the possibility of splitting Democratic votes with Walker and giving a Republican candidate an easier path.Begich says, ultimately, he’s the better candidate and has better ideas for the future of Alaska – and how to deal with what he
described as “tough problems.”
“I think I bring that capacity,” Begich said. “I think we can do better than where we are today. I really believe it.”
The list of Republican candidates includes former Mat-Su state senator Mike Dunleavy, Anchorage businessman Scott Hawkins and – as of today – former Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell. Treadwell describes himself as a conservative businessman and was the state’s second-in-command from 2010 to 2014. He also ran for U.S. Senate but lost to Sullivan in the 2014 Republican primary.
In a letter to Alaskans announcing his run, Treadwell said, “I’m more than a one-issue candidate, but let me say up front: I will protect your dividend.”
Treadwell’s son, Will, filed paperwork for his father at the Anchorage elections office and
refused to answer any questions. Both parties’ primary elections will be held August 21st, with the general election set for November 6th.
This story has been updated to reflect that Mead Treadwell is also running for governor.