Wasilla Republican state Senator Mike Dunleavy took the first formal step Monday toward launching a campaign for governor by filing a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.
Dunleavy is the first incumbent to file as a candidate for governor, and he faces what’s likely to be a crowded field leading up to the primary election in August 2018. The Alaska Dispatch News reports five high-profile Alaskans have talked recently with party donors about running for governor, including an ex-lieutenant governor and a couple of former state senators.
Incumbent Gov. Bill Walker has not yet said whether he'll seek re-election – nor, if so, whether he’ll again run as an independent. He ran as a Republican in 2010, but lost in the primary to Gov. Sean Parnell, who went on to win the election. Walker ran again in 2014, this time as an independent, teaming up with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott under the so-called unity ticket. And that time, he beat Parnell.
Dunleavy is a retired educator who represents District E, which encompasses the Mat-Su Borough and a stretch of the unorganized borough extending eastward to Glennallenn and along the Richardson Highway from Valdez to Delta Junction.
Dunleavy is a conservative who left the Senate's GOP majority caucus earlier this year because he said his Republican colleagues were unwilling to cut state spending as deeply as he thought it should be. He also disagreed with the Legislature’s decision to limit the size of this year's Permanent Fund dividends to about a thousand dollars.