One Mat-Su Valley Republican announces run for governor, another suspends campaign

Alaska Senate Majority photo
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The field of Republicans that would like to unseat Gov. Bill Walker in 2018 is shaping up.

On Tuesday, a former senate president formally launched a campaign, a former house speaker took a step in the direction of a gubernatorial bid, and a current state senator bowed out of the race.

Just before 8 a.m., Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, issued a news release saying he is stepping down due to an unspecified health condition.

"This is not what I wanted to see happen because my heart is in it to serve Alaska, but this is something I must take care of now, not later,” Dunleavy wrote in the release.

Moments later, another Wasilla Republican filed paperwork to run for governor.

The Alaska Public Offices Commission opens at 8 a.m., and within an hour of opening, the campaign finance oversight agency had posted a letter Charlie Huggins dropped off Tuesday to declare his intent to seek state government's top job.

Huggins is a former senate president who was first elected to the Legislature in 2006. He retired from the Legislature in 2016.

By Tuesday afternoon, there was another potential GOP candidate for governor, though it remains unclear which seat Rep. Mike Chenault of Nikiski will actually seek.

Chenault, the longest-serving house speaker in state history, filed paperwork with APOC and said in a phone interview that he intends to run for statewide office.

In 2018, that leaves three possibilities: governor, lieutenant governor, or the U.S. House of Representatives. Chenault would only say that he has no intention of challenging longtime Congressman Don Young.

Beyond that, "I haven't declared which office yet," he said. "I'm just feeling the water to see what kind of support I have."

No Democratic candidate has announced a run for governor yet. Many are waiting to see whether or not former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich will launch a campaign.

Channel 2's Leroy Polk contributed to this report.

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