Alaska Democrats hope to resuscitate their recent political misfortunes and see Byron Mallott as the candidate who can invigorate their brand.
On Saturday, the Democrats officially endorsed Mallott, who serves in various capacities on the boards of Alaska Airlines and the Southeast Alaska Native regional corporation Sealaska. Mallott officially kicked off his campaign last Tuesday in his hometown of Yakutat, where he was born in 1943.
Mallott is an ancestral Tlingit and has "served every Alaska governor since statehood," Zack Fields, who handles the media for Democrats, wrote in a press release Saturday afternoon.
Mallott planned to visit as many communities across the state as possible over the 12 months between now and the gubernatorial election in November 2014, Fields said.
The announcement comes just days after state Sen. Hollis French, who has lived in Alaska since 1978, announced he'd forego a run for governor and instead seek the party's nomination to run for lieutenant governor.
French narrowly won re-election last year to his West Anchorage district and isn't up for election again until 2016. Even if the Democrats lose the gubernatorial race, French doesn't risk losing his Senate perch.
Mallott will first have to win the Democratic primary, to be held in August 2014. If he wins, he'll face at least two rivals for the governor's mansion: Bill Walker, a Valdez Republican who's chosen to avoid a GOP primary and run independent of a political party, and the winner of the Alaska Republican Party primary. Thus far, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell is running unopposed for the GOP nomination.