It looks like the race to replace Senator Johnny Ellis has gone from “nonexistent” to “fully heated” in less than 12 hours, and without Ellis even saying he will need to be replaced.
We reported this morning that Downtown Anchorage Assemblyman Patrick Flynn filed paperwork to run for state office though he didn’t specify which one. Our sources say it was for the Downtown Anchorage Senate seat currently held by Senator Johnny Ellis.
Until that point there was little indication Ellis would either have a challenger or not be running.
Now another well-known name in Alaska politics appears to have entered the race. Tom Begich has filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) to run in the same district.
Earlier today Mr. Begich was reached by phone and he said he filed with APOC to run for the seat because he saw Flynn had filed, and he “wanted to make sure that in case Johnny decides not to run people know they have a choice.” Begich went on to say that his letter of intent was only filed after he called Ellis Tuesday morning.
While Begich didn’t disclose the substance of their conversation or whether Ellis would run, he did say Ellis approved of Begich filing, “I wouldn’t have done it without Johnny’s blessing.”
While Ellis has made no formal announcement, having two candidates as well known and politically connected as Flynn and Begich file within hours to run for the seat of a Senator who isn’t widely seen as vulnerable, either in a primary or general election, strongly points to his not seeking re-election.
Not only do we now have multiple entrants into a race only hours ago didn’t exist, it appears we also have folks already taking names out of the running.
Sources tell The Midnight Sun that Rep. Geran Tarr, who represents the eastern half of Ellis’ senate district in the State House was mulling a run but is now telling colleagues she won’t be getting into the race.
Rep. Les Gara, who represents the western side of Ellis’ district, took to Facebook this morning to make his intentions not to run very clear.
With both Flynn and Begich in the Democratic primary, this looks to be a battle of Alaska political families. Begich is the son of former congressman Nick Begich and brother of former U.S. Senator Mark Begich. Flynn is the son of former Anchorage Assemblywoman Heather Flynn.
Rumors (I am starting right now) are that members of the Sullivan and Murkowski clan are mulling runs in the Republican primary for this district.
Patrick Flynn did not respond to multiple requests for comment on his filling.