JUNEAU — State Sen. Lesil McGuire on Wednesday announced plans to run for lieutenant governor of Alaska next year.
The Republican, who won re-election to her Anchorage Senate seat last year, filed a declaration of candidacy with the Division of Elections on Wednesday. She also filled out a candidate registration for the Alaska Public Offices Commission.
McGuire said she felt it important to announce her plans early — 14 months before the 2014 primary — to have more time to travel the state, meet with Alaskans on their issues and concerns and give Alaskans more time to get to know her. She said over the last two years she found herself increasingly working on statewide issues such as a natural gas pipeline, renewable energy projects and rare earth minerals.
After considering a possible run for lieutenant governor for about a year-and-a-half, she said she decided to take the step after the last legislative session ended and many of the Senate leadership’s goals were accomplished.
She said she informed Gov. Sean Parnell of her decision Tuesday night. She described him as “receptive and warm.”
Alaska’s current lieutenant governor, Republican Mead Treadwell, has been exploring a run for U.S. Senate next year and is expected to announce his decision soon. If it’s an open seat and Treadwell is out, McGuire said she believes she’s the best person for the job given her legislative experience, leadership in outside organizations like the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region, and bills she’s championed as a lawmaker. She said she also complements Parnell, who has said he will seek re-election next year.
McGuire, 42, described Treadwell as a “great man,” and said if he decides to seek re-election, she would have to talk with him. She said she wants what’s best for Alaskans.
McGuire served three terms in the Alaska House before winning election to the Senate in 2006. She was part of the bipartisan coalition created after the 2006 elections that controlled the Senate until Republicans seized control after last fall’s elections. She is in leadership as part of the new GOP-led majority, serving as the Senate Rules chairwoman.
She said she would envision herself the kind of lieutenant governor that Treadwell has been. Treadwell has taken on more than the traditional responsibilities of the office, including work on Arctic issues. McGuire said she is a doer, a consensus-builder and a team player.
Alaska Democratic Party Chairman Mike Wenstrup, in a statement, said McGuire’s announcement “is just the latest sign of her commitment to continue to aid Gov. Parnell in taking Alaska down the wrong track of growing deficits shrinking revenue and stagnation of the Alaska economy. Alaskans deserve a real discussion on how we fix what is wrong in Juneau and not another politician that refuses to acknowledge anything was ever broken.”
Democratic leaders are opposed to an oil tax cut championed by Parnell that passed the Legislature in April, seeing it as potentially devastating to Alaska’s state budget.
An effort is underway to let voters decide whether to keep or repeal the tax change.
Democrats do not yet have any announced candidates for lieutenant governor.
Only one woman has ever served as lieutenant governor in Alaska — Fran Ulmer, who served under Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles.