Two big names in Alaska politics have jumped into the race for governor.
The cutoff for candidates hoping to run in this fall’s elections was 5 p.m. Friday. Joining the list of gubernatorial hopefuls getting in just under the wire were former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell.
Begich and Treadwell are among 10 others hoping to unseat incumbent Gov. 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 Sen. Ted Stevens. Begich served one term, losing his reelection bid to current Sen. 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 to file for the race at 4:29 p.m., pointing out he had 31 minutes to spare.
“I see huge opportunity, but I don’t see a vision, I don’t see where we’re headed in the next 20 years,” he said. “And I believe I can bring a new voice and a fresh voice to the governor’s race that 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 said he is “staying the course” and running only in the general election.
That sets up what will ostensibly be a three-way race between Walker and the winners of the Democratic and Republican primaries.
The list of Republican candidates includes former Mat-Su state senator Mike Dunleavy, Anchorage businessman Scott Hawkins and Lt. Gov. 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.”
Both parties’ primary elections will be held Aug. 21, with the general election set for Nov. 6.