Debra Call files to run for Legislature, entering race for South Anchorage Senate seat

Mark Begich and Debra Call during the 2018 elections.

With less than two months left before the end of the year—and the end of the 2019 fundraising cycle—filings for the 2020 statewide election have been on the uptick with several notable names entering the race.

Monday saw the entry of Debra Call, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2018 on the Democratic ticket as Mark Begich’s running mate. Call filed a letter of intent late Monday with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, a filing that allows her to begin fundraising, signaling her intent to run for state Senate.

We have reached out to Call for comment and will update this post. Call is currently traveling and declined to comment. We’ll have something in the next few weeks.
Call is a resident of the South Anchorage Senate District M, which is currently held by Republican Sen. Josh Revak. Revak was appointed to the position by Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy following the death of Sen. Chris Birch and confirmed earlier this month by Senate Republicans.

Birch won a four-year term in 2018, but state law requires that a special election be held in 2020 for the remainder of the term. The election will appear on the normal primary and general election ballots.

Birch won the district handily in 2018, but the district is far from solidly Republican.

One of the Senate district’s house districts voted for statewide Democratic tickets over the Republican ones. House District 25, which elected Revak, narrowly favored the Begich/Call ticket over Dunleavy as well as independent candidate Alyse Galvin over U.S. Rep. Don Young.

Young and Dunleavy still easily took the entire Senate district thanks to far larger margins of victory in House District 26, which elected Rep. Laddie Shaw.

According to recall records, about 8 percent of eligible voters in Senate District M signed the recall petition. The recall campaign collected signatures from 8 percent of eligible voters statewide.

About Call

With plenty of controversy at the top of the gubernatorial race, Call got little media attention during the race. She has a strong resume, previously working as the director of operations at the Alaska Native Heritage Center and serving as the president of the Knik Tribal Council.

During the 2018 campaign, Call was focused primarily on economic and workforce development. If elected, she would be the only Alaska Native legislator living on the road system.

Why it matters

With fundraising limits tied to the calendar year, expect to see plenty more candidates get in before the end of the year to take advantage of the opportunity to get two maximum contributions for donors.

It’s also a prime time for candidates to be testing the waters so it’s possible that many of the letters of intent that we’re seeing filed lately may not ultimately lead to a candidacy in 2020.

Still, the deeply unpopular cuts made by Dunleavy made permanent with the help of his legislative allies is more than enough to fuel opponents’ campaigns.

Anchorage Democratic challenger Liz Snyder reported raising about $35,000 in one fundraiser for her rematch with Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt, who as minority leader has been the face of pro-Dunleavy legislators.

In Homer, ardent Dunleavy ally Republican Rep. Sarah Vance has drawn a challenge by Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly President Kelly Cooper, an undeclared candidate. Cooper told the Peninsula Clarion that she was frustrated by action in the Alaska Legislature.

“After watching last year’s session I grew extremely frustrated,” she said. “I decided to run to reject the partisan dysfunction and instead carry forward the independent traditions of the Alaska I know and love.”

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