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Two candidates plan challenge to sitting Anchorage senator McGuire

  • Author: Nathaniel Herz
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published July 7, 2015

State Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, will face a contested Republican Party primary in 2016 if she decides to seek another term.

Jeff Landfield, who lost the Republican primary election to McGuire in 2012, filed paperwork Monday to allow him to start fundraising for the next primary on Aug. 16, 2016.

Landfield and McGuire are vying to represent Midtown as well as swaths of South Anchorage.

Landfield is among several early challengers who have already filed to run for state office in 2016.

The winner of the primary contest between Landfield and McGuire will face at least one candidate in the general election.

Forrest McDonald, a 28-year-old University of Alaska Anchorage student, last week filed his own paperwork to run as a Democratic candidate for McGuire's seat.

McGuire was first elected to the state House in 2000, then to the Senate in 2006. Landfield ran against her in the 2012 primary but lost, 56 percent to 44 percent.

Gov. Bill Walker earlier this year appointed Landfield, 30, to a seat on the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct. But the appointment was withdrawn after the discovery of what Walker's office called "disrespectful images" of Landfield on social media -- some of which showed him clad in a Speedo bathing suit with women in Las Vegas.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Landfield said he was "very concerned that the Legislature has put us in a bad position," referring to the multibillion-dollar budget deficits the state is facing.

"I want to do what I can to work with anybody and everybody who wants to work for a long-term sustainable future for our state," Landfield said.

Asked how the social media controversy would affect his campaign, Landfield responded: "I think it's no secret that I like to have a good time."

"But I'm also very serious," he said, citing the fact that he's served as president of Anchorage's Federation of Community Councils.

"I think the average person sees something like that and they go, 'Yeah, this guy is not afraid to be who he is,'" Landfield said. "I think it's actually helpful in the long run."

McGuire has not filed paperwork for her own re-election bid. She didn't answer her phone Tuesday and responded to two voicemails from a reporter with a prepared statement saying she generally doesn't file for office until June of the year of the election.

"I always lean toward running again because it's something that I love so much, and have enjoyed helping to shape good policy for our wonderful state," McGuire's statement said. "I'm still hard at work and right in the middle of many critical issues that I've become a central player in, on the Arctic and energy, so I'm going to keep my head down and my nose to the grindstone for Alaska."

McDonald, the Democratic candidate, said in a phone interview Tuesday he served in the U.S. Army for eight years and is now studying at UAA to be a paramedic.

He's originally from Moose Pass on the Kenai Peninsula and spent a few months in Kodiak last year working on a state legislative campaign. McDonald's candidate, Jerry McCune, lost to the Republican in the general election, Rep. Louise Stutes.

McDonald said he is running because the Legislature is not representing the "will of the people," citing its refusal to expand the state's Medicaid program. He said he plans to start going door to door this year.

"This isn't going to be a placeholder deal," McDonald said. "I'm going to be putting forth a lot of effort."

A handful of other challengers have also signaled their intent to run against sitting state legislators. That list includes Gretchen Wehmhoff, a Chugiak Democrat who is running for the House seat currently held by Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla. Myranda Walso of Chugiak is running in the Republican Party primary for the House seat held by Eagle River Republican Rep. Dan Saddler.

In East Anchorage, Kevin Kastner is running in the Republican primary for the right to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Max Gruenberg.

And in Fairbanks, Aaron Lojewski is running in the Republican primary in the House district currently held by Democratic Rep. Adam Wool.