Mark Begich, Democratic candidate for Alaska governor, announces in a Facebook video Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018 that he will not withdraw from the race for governor, setting up a three-way general election contest between himself, Republican Mike Dunleavy and independent incumbent Gov. Bill Walker. (Screenshot)

Mark Begich, Democratic candidate for Alaska governor, announces in a Facebook video Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018 that he will not withdraw from the race for governor, setting up a three-way general election contest between himself, Republican Mike Dunleavy and independent incumbent Gov. Bill Walker. (Screenshot)

Mark Begich refuses to withdraw, confirming three-way race for Alaska governor

‘It’s a three-way race, so get used to it,’ he says at Anchorage event

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that independent Shawn Butler, winner of the House District 29 Democratic primary, had withdrawn from the general election. He did not withdraw. Butler remains on the ballot and will face Republican Ben Carpenter. That paragraph is now deleted. The Empire regrets the error.

Mark Begich is staying in the 2018 general election.

In a brief ceremony Tuesday afternoon, Begich confirmed that Alaskans will choose from three main options for governor in November.

“I’m in the race to win. It’s a three-way race, so get used to it,” he said to the cheers of supporters in his Anchorage campaign office.

The former U.S. Senator, who has been out of politics since his 2014 loss to Republican challenger Dan Sullivan, won the Democratic nomination for governor unopposed. Despite Tuesday’s announcement, he faces major challenges before the Nov. 6 statewide general election.

Democrats are divided about his candidacy, with many preferring the “unity ticket” headlined by incumbent independent Gov. Bill Walker. An August poll commissioned by the AFL-CIO found only 51 percent of Democrats prefer Begich in a three-way race.

Walker and Begich are expected to split the votes of Alaska’s moderate and progressive voters, leaving the state’s large conservative voting block to Republican Mike Dunleavy, who now becomes the presumptive favorite. Polls throughout the summer have found Dunleavy leading a three-way contest.

Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Billy Toien will also appear on the general election ballot but has not been included in most polls.

In a statement provided to the Empire after Begich’s announcement, the Walker campaign said “a three-way race is a race to 40 percent.”

“Regardless of how many candidates are in the race, this election will come down to the decisions made on the Permanent Fund and the fiscal plan,” the Walker statement said.

In a prepared statement, the Dunleavy campaign said the three-way race resulted “after months of closed door meetings with power brokers and special interests” that “failed to pull off another scheme to disenfranchise Alaskan voters” by having either Walker or Begich withdraw from the race.

The “another” refers to the 2014 creation of the unity ticket between Walker and Byron Mallott, who switched from the Democratic gubernatorial candidate to Walker’s lieutenant governor.

In his Anchorage speech, Begich pledged to be “steadfast standing against the Trump Administration” and urged Alaskans to vote for what they want rather than trying to be strategic.

“We need your help, we need your volunteer time, we need your money,” he said. “We’ve got 63 days. We need to make it happen; you will make it happen.

All three major-party gubernatorial candidates will appear in Juneau this week for fundraisers and the Juneau Chamber of Commerce gubernatorial forum.

While Begich did not quit before Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline for withdrawal from the election, a handful of state House candidates have dropped out.

According to the Alaska Division of Elections, Ketchikan independent incumbent Dan Ortiz now faces just one challenger in the general election. Democrat Ghert Abbott withdrew after winning the Democratic primary for House District 36.

Ortiz was a member of the Democratic-led coalition House Majority during the most recent Legislature. He now faces Republican Trevor Shaw in the general election.

In House District 31, Andy Cizek and Greg Madden of Soldotna have withdrawn from the general election, leaving Republican Sarah Vance to challenge independent candidate Paul Seaton.

Seaton, the incumbent, is a longtime Republican, but he switched to a nonpartisan campaign after the Alaska Republican Party withdrew all support for him in retaliation for his move to join the coalition House Majority.

In this Aug. 21 photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Begich is interviewed following his primary victory in Anchorage. (Michael Dinneen | The Associated Press File)

In this Aug. 21 photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Begich is interviewed following his primary victory in Anchorage. (Michael Dinneen | The Associated Press File)

More in Home

Curtis Davis sharpens a spike at his makeshift campsite near Juneau International Airport on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
With no official place to camp, homeless and neighborhoods alike are suffering miseries

Complaints to JPD nearly double, social agencies seek “safety zone,” many campers just want peace.

Alaska Supreme Court Justice Peter Maassen receives applause from his fellow justices and members of the Alaska Legislature during the annual State of the Judiciary address on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, at the Alaska State Capitol. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Dunleavy will be asked to pick fourth state Supreme Court justice

Applications being accepted to replace Peter Maassen, who reaches mandatory retirement age next year

Shannan Greene (left) and Sharyn Augustine hold signs on April 27 urging residents to sign recall petitions for Juneau Board of Education President Deedie Sorensen and Vice President Emil Mackey due to their roles in a budget crisis for the current fiscal year. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
School board recall petitions submitted; supporters of Saturday cruise ship ban need more signatures

Third initiative seeking to repeal default by-mail elections also has 10 days to get more signers.

Pins supporting the repeal of ranked choice voting are seen on April 20 at the Republican state convention in Anchorage. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska ranked choice repeal measure wins first round of legal challenge, but trial awaits

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of a proposed… Continue reading

Juneau resident Ajah Rose Bishop, 21, suffered severe spinal injuries in a single-vehicle accident early Saturday morning. (GoFundMe fundraiser photo)
Woman breaks spine in single-vehicle collision on Egan Drive early Saturday morning

21-year-old Juneau resident medivaced to Anchorage, online fundraising effort underway.

Lady Baltimore, a bald eagle in Alaska who survived a poaching attempt, rests in her Juneau Raptor Center mew on Aug. 15, 2015. (Photo by Michael Haase, republished under a <a href="https://outlook.office.com/mail/safelink.html?url=https%3A%2F%2Fcommons.m.wikimedia.org%2Fwiki%2FFile%3ALady_Baltimore%2C_in_her_habitat.jpg&locale=en-US&wau=https%3A%2F%2FCAN01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com%2FGetUrlReputation&wid=00730A1A-3310-48BA-AB07-9EC288151649&corid=fe4b86a4-d74c-6b07-ee96-c3ad70e72fe9&srcid=db9d34a3-417f-4f35-e51e-08dc89cbd38e&appname=Microsoft+Outlook+Web+App&appver=20240531006.10&os=Windows+11&scdt=2024-06-11T04%3A06%3A03.000Z&pc=SiNIE2UHOqjsTDeXu7Qfyl%252f0MuM1kiKgjDI2DLrLH1JtQskx5i5%252bdCN7xoG7%252fK1PRa6yy%252fZ3XSb1i%252flsuVK3Vg2H8GhlH8EI66vwnIpdMySAeNhuPkGF9oUXcpmLa7wYfp9hYljGPlX%252fSUN0ka%252fb9fuEHTl%252bfeMVuBW0L4IqZfn4gHRu5Ez07auJmxfEe%252fyzlCybtU5MUoj7vmFiXew9dmOaFtr%252f%252bdd17LZaSzB7cB7Tj8KAmKqi%252ftoT4SC80diZ20XyICPcpGppo4wisO2jK4br%252bAjP63uYoLki25GD4vg6DSSzG20omh1G23J5Mq7yBlLkouXe1e%252fJecID3cLJfeijvHoke%252fFySGVtSlX%252bC0yuPc9PBaswFDfPD8y%252bq%252fplEBKO0X%252fIqyibnqn0nCLKAb7C5Y6T%252fILLzAy07ubY6JHVJpxVmgN5nhYoJz4MNCFbSTrI%252bgXG1dJyW6J2s1lZuaC3wxLjKQYLxbxMZHBXXynxwJtpM1t6LenhuuRdIrFoA46%252bhWWG6ktdCHYONSJ06udG9wIbL1hY%252fEt8kuNBMlPVvuDeYerfRKWMDky9QjvrZCq0oOKLYZbfOzjYmQyMo8XmSPPfSCg%252fUSJiroVTfZUB%252fLKWUUPMVcpyrDcG%252bTJfmaDa3HYVORIM04OyCm7D4S1deoPf1%252bl%252bQ6xLjwqr%252bNipW51fespW%252fhPNEdZvYtkEX1WHv0uEXq%252fsfKcJbiYWeoC7HQvc9LSuXxQTixmRbyptbfMCZL3yGoOwfax0o0dr5zRwBB6aByMBxXXnIq6EtkdpCrdK20tdcp10%252f6cgbwSRykCRtWWHjfcin4%252foTuur3I6RhyYTjSBVmmjG86far6r4mu28yX11kGGSwkT068%252fzNolbsJy72QcOwQbEFxExwDPwnCpI5joLpqPPTd5iY7trqLiJEPE5Nq8SF5aVbkJ1ls3KNAH%252bGUKaMLGO0JopoKwd%252bcITA26Og3W5jwkL4vZqwax7zOVJ1QXW0or5msVz1dGhQEPMFHDNoRXA49PqYVp8uhybRod%252bc8HOL9Ardc%252fJyiaFGtYuGJjFILBPJPFvIfhIF1tvyhvXbtJYHTrS2EHPLydOALIXXFQOu02a9Ky7JL16AafcjAKSoNvefUHoox83YCUid70tE6tayBEx1YLPIwe5OmR1TPuH50EUNfPFwVsJPTc%252b5%252fSmGp8LVhh36y1pEcf%252fyEbCFPZYvZuAgux1d%252btAU0%252f%252bDTp4WssPiTZJ7njswKiaMtHqeyithLO2v1ggqi2qeu%252bpPqwRo5owqSW6BNgPCEduo1cJFRBFyfGiUKCcxAjLt%252ba3q7LkYI6ujxsf8oPlyZf4Td7beQ3KgrOo572qp2H%252fBaQCPcRlAiY%252feJCGOqwnIcrnr%252f2C7ovGbjx9D0mzpqEcCojm9b2sRT5uzuM19NsYfRsCghgqnIvBD%252fUaJbj1OMZpuobrqTihpEcMAB2%252bXl32lg3PDC2J%3B+expires%3DWed%2C+12+Jun+2024+22%3A21%3A19+GMT%3B+path%3D%2F%3B+SameSite%3DNone%3B+secure%3B+httponly&urlsrc=Body&msgdata=eyJJc1VybEJlaW5nU2Nhbm5lZCI6IiIsIlVybFdyaXRlVGltZSI6IjYvMTEvMjAyNCA0OjA3OjI2IEFNIiwiQVNEaXJlY3Rpb25hbGl0eSI6IjEiLCJQaGlzaEVkdSI6IjAiLCJNc2dTY2FuU3VzcGljaW9uTGV2ZWwiOiIzIn0%3D" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> license)
Legends of Lady Baltimore, Juneau’s famous bald eagle, fly on after her death

Rescued bird that became famous Mount Roberts inhabitant euthanized due to failing health.

In the spirit of Dolly Parton’s country music roots, race participant Mendenhall River Community School Principal Eric Filardi runs in costume with young Lucy Vogel wearing heart-shaped sunglasses as they enjoy the sunny Saturday weather on the Airport Dike Trail race course. About 85 runners participated, many wearing pearls and pink hats provided at the starting tent. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)
Busting out the pink and pearls at the first Dolly Dash

Dolly Parton-inspired fun run raises funds for free books for kids.

Celebration 2024 participants dance across and around the main stage at Centennial Hall during the Grand Exit ceremony Saturday evening. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Celebration 2024 ends four days of traditional and new events with a Grand Exit

Participants combine thunderous tribute to heritage with spirit of an intimate family gathering.

David A. Boxley, wearing a Ravenstail-trimmed robe, and his son David R. Boxley sing and drum in Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Saturday afternoon as Metlakatla’s Git Hoan dancers perform a canoe paddling dance featuring a large carved headdress created by Git Hoan’s senior Boxley. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)
Photos: Git Hoan brings stories to life in dance and art during Celebration

Metlakatla dancers among 36 Indigenous groups sharing their heritage during four-day event.

Most Read