The contenders for the 2018 Melee Under the Midnight Sun–the Fracas in Fairbanks–are now official, and the bout will feature two of the Interior’s biggest political heavyweights.
In the incumbent’s corner you’ll find two-time winner Republican Sen. Pete Kelly, who currently serves as the Senate President. In the challenger’s corner there’s Democratic Rep. Scott Kawasaki, hot off a six-win streak in the district representing the west half of the city of Fairbanks.
The long-rumored matchup became official today when Kawasaki amended his open letter of intent to signify he’s running for Senate. Kelly, who was rumored to be one of the many Senate Republicans considering higher office, filed his letter of intent to run for reelection on Tuesday night.
Kawasaki told the News-Miner in May (when I worked there) that he was intent on removing Kelly from office. He was cagey at the time whether he would personally join the race.
“I can say somebody needs to be beat Pete. Period,” he said.
The letters are not official entries into the race, but allow both men to begin fundraising for the race. And if history is any signifier, it will be a costly one.
Kawasaki has proved to be a powerful campaigner, raising massive amounts of money compared to local races in each of his recent campaign bids. He brought in $78,529 in 2014 and $73,716 in 2012. He even raised $28,071 in 2016 when he had no challenger.
Kelly is no slouch either. Senate races tend to be bigger money races in general, and he raised $110,586 in 2014 and $91,883 in 2012.
A potential third entrant into the race is PJ Simon, who could enter as an independent.
Democrats have already found a replacement for Kawasaki in Fairbanks North Star Borough Assemblywoman Kathryn Dodge, who has already filed a letter of intent to run for Kawasaki’s house seat.