Sen. Lesil McGuire announced Wednesday she will run for lieutenant governor, calling herself a peacemaking alternative to a potential rival for the job, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan.
"There's just a natural progression that you reach, where at least in my life, I have a desire to work on bigger state issues that affect more Alaskans' lives," said McGuire, 42.
McGuire, R-Anchorage, is the first candidate to declare for lieutenant governor in 2014. Sullivan said this week he is considering a run for that seat, but described what sounded like a shotgun approach. He also said he was considering a run for governor, the Legislature, U.S. Senate and U.S. House. He said he was watching to see what other potential candidates do and might not run at all.
Asked about a potential GOP matchup against Sullivan, McGuire emphasized her statewide experience, including visits to remote villages. And, she added, having a woman on the Republican ticket "brings an interesting perspective for Alaskans
"The mayor has done a good job leading the city in many ways, but I think a fair characterization would be that he has been fairly polarizing in recent years," McGuire said. Sullivan successfully pushed for a re-write of city labor laws this year in a bitter fight with labor unions.
McGuire was first elected to the Legislature in 2000, defeating Ray Metcalfe in the state House. Gov. Sean Parnell -- then leaving the state Senate to work in the private sector, where he represented ConocoPhillips -- had urged her to run, she said.
McGuire most recently won re-election to the Senate in 2012, representing Oceanview and Bayshore.
In a sign that the 2014 fight for the governor's mansion has already began, the Alaska Democratic Party blasted McGuire's declaration for a statewide seat within hours of her filing at the Division of Elections.
"Sen. McGuire's announcement today is just the latest sign of her commitment to continue to aid Gov. Parnell in taking Alaska down the wrong track of growing deficits, shrinking revenue and stagnation of the Alaska economy," party chair Mike Wenstrup said in a written statement.
McGuire supported tax cuts to oil companies sought by Parnell. The Senate approved the tax plan in April.
"I am supportive of making Alaska competitive again because I want this state to have a quality of life like the one I grew up with," said McGuire, who serves as chair of the Rules Committee.
If the new tax regime can jump-start investment, it's worth a try, she said.
Although candidates do not run side-by-side for governor and lieutenant governor until after the primary elections, McGuire said she talked to Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell about campaigning with him when Treadwell was considering a run for governor.
At the time, Treadwell and Parnell where talking to each other about which of the two candidates would run for U.S. Senate, she said. "They were having very gentlemanly conversations about not running against one another."
Treadwell has launched an exploratory committee to consider a bid for the U.S. Senate. Parnell filed paperwork in May seeking re-election as governor.
McGuire said she would not be opposed to running alongside gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker, an Anchorage attorney and vocal critic of Parnell's oil tax policy. "I support Alaskans' choice," she said.
McGuire was married to former Anchorage Rep. Tom Anderson when Anderson was convicted in 2007 of taking secret payments in return for pushing a private prison company's interests in Alaska. She was not implicated in the corruption probe and filed for divorce in 2010.
McGuire said she believes she is now best known more for her work on energy issues and other policy efforts rather than her former marriage to Anderson. "I think Alaskans know me for who I am," she said.
By KYLE HOPKINS