Andrew Halcro, president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, filed paperwork Friday signaling his intent to run for mayor of Anchorage.
Halcro, 50, a former Alaska legislator who ran for governor as an independent in 2006 against Republican Sarah Palin and Democrat Tony Knowles, has yet to make an official announcement. But his candidacy has been widely anticipated, and on Friday he filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission to enter the 2015 mayor's race, online records show.
The APOC filing enables prospective mayoral candidates to begin collecting campaign donations. Formal candidate notifications, which require the prior APOC notice, must be filed with the municipal clerk's office between Jan. 30 and Feb. 13. The city election is April 7.
Halcro did not respond to requests for comment Friday. He said earlier this week he planned to announce his decision on a mayoral candidacy by early next week.
Halcro's entry in the race would expand a field that includes former Anchorage Assembly Chair Dan Coffey, current Assembly member Amy Demboski and former Assembly member Paul Bauer. Additional major candidates have yet to surface, although the speculative list of names that has circulated in recent months includes former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, who lost his re-election bid in November.
Demboski said Halcro called her Thursday to say he was planning to run, and she said she "welcomed" the news.
"I think he'll bring a great level of discussion to the race," Demboski said. "I think his voice is a valuable one."
Coffey, who announced his candidacy in October 2013, said he did not receive a call from Halcro. But he also said he would welcome Halcro as a rival.
"Andrew's run for a lot of things, and I've been engaged in a lot of things," Coffey said Friday. "My hope is that we engage in a deliberative, on-the-merits debate."
Coffey added that he is "astonished, frankly," that more high-profile contenders have not come forward by now.
Based on APOC filings, at least five other people are seeking to replace Mayor Dan Sullivan: Dustin Darden, Timothy Russell Huit, christopher steven jamison (sic), Jacob Seth Kern and Phil Stoddard.
Former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, also considering a run for mayor, said over the phone Friday that he and his advisers are "watching the race closely." He said he plans to make an announcement either way around the time of the filing deadline on Feb. 13.
"The big question on a lot of people's minds is whether Mark Begich is going to run," Treadwell said. Begich has yet to confirm or dispel rumors.
Treadwell said he's also watching to see how well Demboski does in mustering conservative support.
Halcro, who has served as an executive in his family's rental car business, the Avis Alaska franchise, was elected as a Republican representative to the Alaska House in 1998. He decided not to seek re-election in 2002 and, four years later, ran for governor as an independent.
After losing to Palin, Halcro, through his political blog, became a staunch critic of Palin and her administration. He published revelations that broke the "Troopergate" scandal, in which Palin tried to fire a trooper who was involved in a custody battle with her sister.
In December 2012, Halcro was tapped to lead the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. In his tenure as president, Halcro has overseen the chamber's "commerce of diversity" initiative, which has encouraged business to support Anchorage's gay and lesbian community.
In a column published Monday in Alaska Dispatch News, Halcro pointed to housing affordability, the growth of downtown, the broadening of the local tax base and the stabilization of energy costs as "critical things Anchorage city leaders need to do in 2015."