Conservative lawmaker Dunleavy is first high-profile candidate in 2018 governor’s race

Mike Dunleavy, the socially and fiscally conservative Republican state senator from Wasilla, intends to run for governor next year, according to paperwork he filed Monday with Alaska campaign finance regulators.

Dunleavy has for months publicly acknowledged his interest in the job, which is currently held by independent Bill Walker. Dunleavy's "letter of intent" filed Monday with the Alaska Public Offices Commission is a formal step that allows him to start spending money and accepting campaign contributions.

The move makes Dunleavy the first high-profile candidate in the 2018 gubernatorial race; Walker hasn't announced whether he'll seek a second four-year term. Dunleavy's letter of intent was first reported by Must Read Alaska, a conservative news website.

Dunleavy and five other prospective GOP gubernatorial candidates — investor Bob Gillam, former state Sens. Charlie Huggins and John Binkley, businessman and political activist Scott Hawkins and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman — made initial pitches to party donors at a private home last month.

[Alaska GOP hears initial pitches from potential 2018 gubernatorial candidates]

Dunleavy was first elected to the state Senate in 2012 but had to run for another four-year term two years later because of redistricting. His latest term ends next year, which will likely set off a scramble to replace him.

In April, Dunleavy left his place in the Senate's Republican-led majority by voting against the annual budget proposal assembled by his caucus — a move that left him without committee chairmanships and a pared-down staff.

Nathaniel Herz

Anchorage-based independent journalist Nathaniel Herz has been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Public Media. Read his newsletter, Northern Journal, at natherz.substack.com