Bob Poe says he is running for governor as a Democrat, and he's starting his campaign nearly two years before voters go to the polls.
Poe, a former state commissioner and past president of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., is the first to announce for the race. Republican Gov. Sarah Palin hasn't said for sure whether she plans to run for re-election.
Poe, asked why he's announcing so early, said it gives him time to get out and meet voters. He cited a comment in the Alaska Ear, which, reporting on rumors he would run, suggested the first thing that people would ask is, "Who's Bob Poe?"
Poe has never run for public office before.
But he's been around Alaska government and business for 28 years. He's currently a business consultant in Anchorage and said he worked under four governors -- Bill Sheffield, Steve Cowper, Wally Hickel and Tony Knowles.
Poe was state commissioner of administration for two years under Knowles and headed the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, a state lending agency. Earlier, he was state director for international trade.
As commissioner of administration, Poe's job included preparing the state for potential year 2000 computer glitches. As head of the state industrial development export authority, he increased the loan portfolio and recruited a New York investor to try to save the struggling Alaska Seafood International, a business that ultimately failed.
Poe left AIDEA in 2002 after two years to become vice president of Alaska operations with ASCG Inc., which at the time was an engineering firm owned by Arctic Slope Regional Corp. Poe was then president of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., the city's nonprofit business booster, from 2004 until 2007. Poe's wife, Terzah, works for Shell Oil.
"I am concerned about the path Alaska is headed on. There are a lot of great things about Alaska and I think we're not doing what we need to be doing to make sure Alaska stays on the path of economic strength and continued diversification and building our multi-generational economy," Poe said in an interview.
Other Democrats are sure to challenge Poe for their party's nomination for governor, but it's just speculation who would do so at this point.
Pollster Ivan Moore, who often works for Democrats, suggested possibilities might include Eric Croft, although he is currently running for Anchorage mayor, and any number of state legislators.
Moore said he'd consider Poe a solid candidate, with a good business resume and ability to connect with people. Poe's challenge is his lack of name recognition, the pollster said.
Could Poe beat Palin, if she runs for re-election?
"If the election were held today his chances would be pretty minimal but the election is not going to be held today, it's going to be held in November 2010," Moore said.
Find Sean Cockerham online at adn.com/contact/scockerham or call him at 257-4344.