Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy will run for re-election in 2022 with Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, he said Friday.
His campaign submitted a letter of intent with state regulators allowing him to begin fundraising for the 2022 election, and the governor said in an interview Friday that he sees “tremendous opportunity and upside for Alaska” in the next few years.
“I’m excited to put in another four years,” he said. “I think I’ve demonstrated some pretty positive leadership when Alaska has been dealt one of the toughest blows in its history with this virus and the economic fallout.”
Dunleavy has not officially filed with the Alaska Division of Elections. The deadline to do so is June 1, and most candidates begin raising money months before officially registering.
Former independent Gov. Bill Walker said Friday he’s giving “very serious consideration” to running next year.
“Gov. Dunleavy has chosen a path of partisanship and division. Given his attacks on our education system, infrastructure and our economy I’m giving very serious consideration to running,” he said “At this critical juncture, it’s important that Alaskans work together to move this state forward. Purely partisan leadership only widens the divide — it’s time for Alaskans to come together and work for a brighter future.”
Former Democratic state legislator Les Gara said on Friday that he is “likely” to run but is still discussing it with his wife.
“We both feel I should run if that’s what gives Alaskans the best chance to recover from the damage Gov. Dunleavy has done,” Gara said. “He’s killed 6,000 jobs by leaving our construction budget in shambles, and badly damaged schools and the things that give people who aren’t born with wealth a chance to succeed in this state. That’s the purpose of having an exploratory committee, and deliberating over this. But, yes, I’m leaning that way, while still listening.”
Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Billy Toien and Lt. Gov. candidate Shirley Rainbolt are the only candidates so far who have officially registered.
Under Alaska’s new election system, governor and lieutenant governor candidates will run as a single ticket. The four tickets that receive the most votes in the primary election will advance to the general election, where a winner will be chosen by ranked-choice voting.
Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer filed a letter of intent earlier this year. On Friday, he was at the National Association of Secretaries of State conference in Iowa, his chief of staff said, and unavailable for comment.
Dunleavy was elected in 2018 behind a pledge to pay a traditional Permanent Fund dividend and provide back payments to eligible Alaskans. To compensate for the cost of that program, he proposed more than $1.6 billion in budget cuts and cost shifts during his first year in office.
That plan was rejected by the state legislature and sparked a recall campaign that has since floundered, falling short of the support needed to force a statewide referendum. After Dunleavy’s first year, his administration has proposed modest cuts in line with budgets proposed by Walker, his predecessor.
“It was made clear by a number of groups of Alaskans that they didn’t necessarily care for large reductions. It’s also been made clear to me by Alaskans, that they’re not necessarily sad about taxes,” Dunleavy said.
He said he’s sure that some residents are disappointed about the size of dividends under his tenure, but said the “vast majority” of Alaskans he’s talked to appreciate that he fought for the traditional dividend.
“I think the majority of Alaskans that are following the PFD and the (Power Cost Equalization program) appreciate our efforts,” he said.
On Monday, the Alaska Legislature will begin a special session intended to consider a Dunleavy-proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee the dividend, albeit at a lower amount than the traditional formula.
Dunleavy said he’s optimistic about the state’s situation, particularly if it manages to diversify its economy.
“I think we have a lot going for us. And if we get through a couple little hurdles here with a sustainable fiscal plan, I just think you’re gonna see this state continue to grow, continue to produce opportunities,” he said. “And I think people will look back at this time and say we got through it pretty well and we had a pretty positive situation for Alaska.”