Update: This story has been updated with a more accurate district description.
On Monday night, Rep. Les Gara announced he was considering retiring from the Legislature and opened the door for candidates to consider running for the seat.
Already two Democrats have entered the primary: Zack Fields and Elias Rojas. Gara is still currently registered to run in the race, but has said he would consider endorsing one or more candidates in the primary as long as it’s “not one of the perennial candidate wannabe’s.”
Fields, who filed with the Division of Elections on Wednesday, already has Gara’s endorsement, along with the endorsements of Mark Begich, Vic Fischer, Vince Beltrami, Leslie Ridle, Heidi Drygas, Joelle Hall, Joey Merrick and Laborers Local 341, Jane Angvik, Kay Brown, Bill Wielechowski, Hollis French, and Kevin McGee. Fields currently works with Laborers Local 341. He previously worked as a special assistant in the Department of Labor as well as the former communicatiosn director of the Alaska Democratic Party.
“He reached out to share his views, and shares the majority view in this district on issues ranging from social issues, equal rights and women’s issues, and on the way out of a deficit that will kill this state if its not resolved,” Gara said in a message to The Midnight Sun. “It’s also a testament to his character that he was great about not pushing to run when he knew I was reaching out to a number – maybe over 50 – women I could think of, who I thought would be great representatives, and to Mike Coumbe who I also thought would be great.”
Rojas filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Tuesday. He owns Alaska Digital Strategies, a marketing and advertising agency, and is the board president of Alaskans Together for Equality. Rojas enters with endorsements from Tom Begich, Elvi Gray-Jackson, Christopher Constant and Felix Rivera.
Gara said he hasn’t yet talked with Rojas.
Gara represents House District 20, one of the state’s most Democratic districts, covering Downtown, Government Hill, Fairview and South Addition.
We’ve heard talk that other people are considering entering the race.
The filing deadline is June 1.
Other crowded primaries
The race for House District 20 won’t be the only crowded primary for a (potentially) open seat in this year’s primary election.
There’s a three-way race shaping up for House District 26 between Republicans Albert Fogle, Joe Riggs, Laddie Shaw. The district covers the Huffman and Hillside ares of Anchorage and will be vacated by Rep. Chris Birch who’s seeking an open Senate seat.
While Birch so far has a clear run for the Republican nomination for Senate, there’s a three-way race shaping up in the Republican primary for Senate District E. The seat is currently held by Sen. Mike Shower, who was appointed to the seat in a messy process this year. He’ll be going up against Randall Kowalke, who was Gov. Bill Walker’s off-list pick for the seat, and Rep. George Rauscher, who was on the original district list of replacements but was snubbed by Walker. The district covers rural Mat-Su, Talkeetna, Willow and the Richardson Highway area, including Delta and Valdez.
Rep. Paul Seaton is also looking forward to a potential four-way race against Republican challengers John Cox, Hank Kroll and Sarah Vance. Seaton, who represents House District 31 from Homer, has drawn fire from the Alaska Republican Party for forming a coalition with Democrats.