The filing deadline for candidates to enter the 2018 election has closed. Online filings for each race won’t be immediately available, so in the mean time let’s take a look at the biggest news of the day.
Former U.S. Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, and former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, a Republican, made final-hour entries into the race for Alaska governor today. The news guarantees a three-way race including independent Gov. Bill Walker, who announced he would take the independent path to the general election.
Begich joins a vacated Alaska Democratic Primary for the seat, confirming months of swirling rumors that the Democrat would join the race for governor, while Treadwell joins a crowded field for Republicans after a relatively short few weeks of rumors that he would enter the race.
“I am running for governor because the stakes could not be higher. Alaska is my home and I will not sit back and watch our state continue to fall behind,” Begich wrote in an email to supporters. “Alaska is my home and I will not sit back and watch our state continue to fall behind. When a majority of Alaskans believe our state is headed in the wrong direction, it is time to put faith and vision back into our leadership.”
His letter highlights three main areas: unemployment, crime and protecting the PFD against “politicians that want a piece of your PFD instead of solving the actual problem.”
Begich also posted a video to his Facebook page alerting supporters that he would be joining the race about an hour before the 5 p.m. filing, ending it with the quip: “I have to tell ya, I’m only a few minutes from the filing deadline so I’ve gotta go.”
The former U.S. Senator and former Anchorage mayor arrived at the Anchorage Division of Elections office shortly afterward to a flurry of social media posts by reporters who had been camped out in the office throughout the day.
Making it official. I just filed to run for Governor of Alaska with Deborah and Jacob. pic.twitter.com/WFdejtTRP2
— Mark Begich (@MarkBegich) June 2, 2018
Treadwell didn’t make as much of a show of entering the race as his son, Will, dropped off the paperwork.
— Liz Raines (@lrainesktva) June 2, 2018
In an statement to supporters, Treadwell said he hadn’t planned on running, but said “as we approached this day, many Alaskans all over the state were unsatisfied with our choices.”
He’ll likely face an uphill battle against the already-established front-runner of the Republican primary, far-right conservative former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy.
But he won’t be without backers among conservative Republican circles because there’s been a concerted effort to recruit a Republican other than Dunleavy. We’ve heard general dissatisfaction that conservative-leaning business leaders over Dunleavy’s lack of executive experience and his full-PFD platform.
Begich’s announcement takes shots at both Dunleavy and Walker, with this statement on the PFD standing out the most: “With years of out of control state spending, when will we stand up to politicians that want a piece of your PFD instead of solving the actual problem?” He says he’s “deeply concerned about the dangerous vision from the leading Republican candidate (Dunleavy). We can and must do better.”
The entry of the two will shake up the dynamics of the race, but Begich upends the race most significantly. Until last night, when Begich reportedly made his decision to enter the race, the race for governor had been between independent Gov. Bill Walker and whoever is the eventual winner of the Republican primary. Walker had announced he would run in the Alaska Democratic Primary as an independent, but withdrew when it became clear that Begich would be entering the race.