Begich: ‘It’s a three-way race; get used to it’

Deadline to register to vote in general election is Oct. 7

Democrat Mark Begich, with his wife Deborah and son Jacob, and at his left Debra Call, his running mate for lieutenant governor, announced on Sept. 4 that he’s staying in the three-way race for governor. (Photo by Margaret Bauman/The Cordova Times)

Former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is staying in the race for governor of Alaska.

“Alaska has never given up on me, and I won’t give up on Alaska,” Begich said. “For those who are wondering, I’m staying in this race for governor. I’m in the race to win. It’s a three-way race; get used to it.”

Begich made the announcement at his campaign headquarters in Anchorage on Sept. 4, surrounded by dozens of sign waving campaign supporters, along with his wife, Deborah, his son Jacob, and Debra Call, his running mate for lieutenant governor. Also, on hand were some backing incumbent Gov. Bill Walker, who expected Begich to announce he was withdrawing from the race.

He now faces Walker and Republican Mike Dunleavy, a former state senator, in the general election on Nov. 6. Of Alaska’s 567,403 registered voters as of Sept. 4, 140,060 are Republicans and 74,964 are Democrats. The deadline to register to vote for this election is Oct. 7.

“We are going to fight for the future where women make their own health care decisions … And we are going to fight for the future … of the 5-year-old I met in Bethel, who doesn’t have her PFD slashed because she’s expected to shoulder the same burden of our financial crisis as a CEO of a large corporation,” Begich said. “We are going to fight for the future where if you put in a hard day’s work you can make enough money to raise a family and save for the future, and we are going to fight for a future where access to quality education is a right, not a privilege.”

Begich’s decision came in the wake of a petition on the website MoveOn urging him to withdraw from the race, saying that while they had supported him in the past, this was not the right time for him to run for governor. We believe you would essentially serve as a ‘spoiler,’ paving the way for Republican Mike Dunleavy to be elected governor,” they said.

The list (online at https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/alaskans-call-on-mark) included several prominent current and former executives of Alaska Native regional corporations, state legislators and commercial fishermen.

With Democrats still split on whom to vote for, Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau issued a statement saying Begich “is the only candidate for governor who has the values and record we can trust.”

The Walker campaign issued a statement on the Facebook website saying that regardless of the number of candidates that the election “will come down to the decisions made to protect the Permanent Fund and deliver a fiscal plan. Those decisions have been tough, but they have restored our credit rating, ended our unilateral dependence on oil, and protected the Permanent Fund for the future.”

“Party politicians would like to run away from those decisions and retreat back to uncertainty and fiscal crisis,” the statement said. “Our challenge in the next two months is to convince Alaskans that those decisions have put Alaska in control of our own future.”

Alaskans for Dunleavy also issued a statement on behalf of Dunleavy, saying that “after months of closed-door meetings with power brokers and special interests, the two candidates for big government – Bill Walker and Mark Begich – failed to pull off another scheme to disenfranchise Alaskan voters.

“Now the choice could not be more clear,” the Alaskans for Dunleavy statement said. “Alaskans can vote either for the failed experiment of Walker/Mallott, career politician Mark Begich, or the bold new leadership of Mike Dunleavy, who has pledged to restore the PFD, take real steps to fight crime, and grow the economy.”

“The Mike Dunleavy campaign is focused on addressing issues that matter most to Alaskans: record unemployment, out-of-control crime, a weak economy, and unsustainable government spending. Mike Dunleavy’s optimistic vision for Alaska has been, and will continue to be, the cornerstone of the campaign to send Mike to the governor’s office.”