Republican Sen. Dunleavy is the first big name to enter 2018 governor’s race

(Photo by Senate Majority press office)

In an unsurprising move, Wasilla Republican Sen. Mike Dunleavy has taken the first official step to running for governor in 2018. Among all the rumored challengers for governor, Dunleavy’s been the most obvious in positioning for a potential run.

Today, Dunleavy filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission that will allow him to begin fundraising for the Republican primary for governor. The filing was first reported by Must Read Alaska, which has all the personal biographic information about Dunleavy you’d ever want.

Steps into the state-wide spotlight:

  • Dunleavy left the Senate Majority caucus over a messy protest vote against the operating budget. He voted against the operating budget on the first go around, then voted for the draw from the constitutional budget reserve and later voted in favor of the budget on reconsideration. He said the third vote was by mistake. Fellow Mat-Su senator Sen. Shelley Hughes left the caucus at the end of session in order to also protest the operating budget. Dunleavy missed the opportunity to cast a second vote against the budget because he arrived in Juneau just after the Senate passed the budget.
  • He held the bizarre press conference outside his district, in front of “local business” Fred Meyer to announce that he would be filing a bill to restore the permanent fund dividend vetoed by Walker.
  • Senate Bill 1 got three hearings during this session and emerged from the State Affairs Committee, but was never heard in the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Bill Wielechowski tried, and failed, to get the bill advanced from the committee on the same day Dunleavy voted against the operating budget, but the effort failed. Dunleavy voted against the move and ultimately withdrew the bill on April 16.
  • Dunleavy first joined the Legislature in the 2012 elections and made school vouchers his pet project. It found little traction in the Senate, where moderates ranged from skeptical to openly opposed to the measure, and it was ultimately pulled before facing an embarrassing defeat on the floor.

In fact Dunleavy has yet to have a personal piece of legislation be signed into law through the five sessions he’s been in Juneau. Though maybe that’s a good thing with his conservative, small-government constituents.

State of the race

Gov. Bill Walker has yet to file a letter of intent to begin fundraising efforts, though rumors suggest he might file as an independent before long.

Nat Herz at the ADN reports that Dunleavy was part of a group of prospective Republican candidates.

“Dunleavy and five other prospective GOP gubernatorial candidates — investor Bob Gillam, former state Sens. Charlie Huggins and John Binkley, businessman and political activist Scott Hawkins and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman — made initial pitches to party donors at a private home last month.”

Rumors have swirled about Dunleavy’s colleagues in the Senate also seeking higher office. Expect to see a flurry of filings, announcements and fundraisers now that the Legislature is finally out of session. Though a capital budget special session is expected before the end of the month.

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