With Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell declaring his intention to seek re-election Friday, other GOP candidates, namely those interested in pursuing the U.S. Senate, are taking note and preparing for a contentious 2014 race.
The candidate at the top of the pile, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell said Friday night that he intends to “intensify” the efforts of his exploratory committee following Parnell's announcement. Days later, Treadwell still has not made official announcement on whether he will seek Senate candidacy or not.
Reached by phone at a meeting for the White House Commission on Election Administration in Nevada Tuesday, Treadwell said if he has an announcement to make it won't be until June, probably around Solstice, though he noted it could come before that.
Still, Treadwell said Parnell's announcement Friday cleared a major hurdle hindering his decision on a Senate campaign. The lieutenant governor has indicated in earlier interviews, and as long ago as December 2012, that he has no interest in facing off in a Republican primary against his boss.
“(Parnell's candidacy was) obviously one issue that needed to be understood,” Treadwell said via telephone. “There are a number of others. I want to make sure we have a path to victory and the resources to get there.”
And resources will likely matter. The 2014 race is expected to be contentious -- and expensive. Incumbent Sen. Mark Begich, despite his pro-development, independent leanings, is expected find broad support from national Democratic groups. And his war chest is building. Federal Elections Commission filings show Begich has $1.5 million on hand, with about $948,000 coming in during the first quarter of 2013 alone.
While Treadwell noted the campaign would be a multi-million dollar endeavor, he didn't want to focus on the money being an issue. Instead, his primary focus is working on finding a team capable of taking on the race.
“It has to have Alaskans involved from all over the state,” he said. “We need professionals for various aspects of the campaign and we're talking to people in that realm.”
Treadwell said he still hasn't ruled out pursuing another run for lieutenant governor. That race holds its own primary, independent from the governor's race.
Treadwell and Parnell have in the past had friction. In 2011, Parnell sent a letter to Treadwell asking him to confine himself to his official duties and to not give conflicting direction to lower level staff. Despite the past disputes, Treadwell still offered congratulations to Parnell for pursing reelection Tuesday.
Mum's the word
Among others shortlisted for a possible Senate race include 2010 Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Miller has announced his own intentions to explore the 2014 Senate race. But on Monday, Miller spokesman Bill Peck declined to answer questions about the progress or conclusions of that Senate exploration.
An independent tea party group has tried to rally Palin to pursue Sen. Begich's seat, but she has made no official indication whether she will run, and has not publicly acknowledged The Tea Party Leadership Fund PAC's “Draft Sarah Palin” effort.
Though Palin is still active in politics, she remains silent about her future in elected office. And since she is more often seen on red carpets or at political rallies in the Lower 48 than out and about living life in Alaska, some wonder if she is even eligible to run for anything in the Last Frontier.
The U.S. Constitution requires that when elected, a Senator must "be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen," but that's it. And though the issue can be very complicated, being a resident of Alaska means, among other things, spending a certain amount of time within its borders.
A check of public records shows that none of Palin’s immediate family has applied for a sport hunting or fishing license since 2011, unusual for the outdoorsy Palins. More interesting, though, is the fact that, since that year, neither Sarah, Todd, nor any of their children have applied for that perhaps most Alaskan of privileges: The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. Residency is a major component of both applications.
A large number of possibilities exist besides a lack of residency to explain why the Palins have passed up recent Dividend checks and sporting licenses after doing so consistently for years, but requests for comment have gone unanswered.
Silence about Alaska issues has also become the norm for the former governor and vice-presidential candidate, despite assaults against two major pieces of legislation she championed as governor.
The Alaska Legislature this spring dismantled and replaced the Palin-era oil and gas tax system known as Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share, or ACES. The other signature piece of Palin's time as governor, The Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, AGIA, is thought by many to be next on the chopping block -- after years of stagnation with no significant progress and $500 million in state inducements almost gone.