ANCHORAGE - Fairbanks businessman John Binkley announced Monday he wants to be Alaska's next governor.
Binkley, a former state legislator, filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. He said he plans to follow-up soon with an official declaration of his candidacy after he finishes putting together a statewide campaign team.
"I want to provide the next generation of Republican leadership for the state of Alaska," Binkley said. "Providing leadership is respecting people. It's an opportunity to engage people in constructive dialogue on important issues."
Binkley, 52, is the second Republican to file his intentions to replace Gov. Frank Murkowski, who has not yet said if he plans to seek a second term.
"The fact that he has not put together an organization and has not filed to run for office leads me to believe he is not going to run," Binkley said. "But if he does, we'll have a spirited debate on the issues."
Murkowski's spokeswoman Becky Hultberg said the governor may decide by the end of January whether he will run again. She said it would be inappropriate to comment on Binkley's intention to run for governor.
Former Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin said in October she will seek the Republican nomination for governor in the November 2006 election. Also running for the office are state Reps. Eric Croft and Ethan Berkowitz, both Democrats from Anchorage.
Asked for his stance on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the proposed natural gas pipeline, Binkley said, "I'm certainly pro development of resources in Alaska for the benefits of Alaskans."
Two years ago he had considered running against U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, but decided he couldn't raise enough campaign funds to defeat former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles, who went on to lose to Lisa Murkowski in the general election.
Binkley served in the Alaska Legislature between 1984 and 1990, and is a former co-chairman of the state Senate Finance Committee. At the time, he represented the Bethel area, where he and his wife Judy established a barge and tug business on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. He is a member of the Alaska Railroad Corp., currently serving as board chairman.
He is a third-generation Alaskan and owner of the Riverboat Discovery tour company, a tourist attraction in Fairbanks, where he was born. For years his first name was spelled "Johne" but he dropped the "e" in 2003.
"It always confused people," Binkley said Monday.