In this March 2016 photo, Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, questions Dr. Susan McCauley, Interim Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, during a Senate Education Committee on SB 191 at the Capitol. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

In this March 2016 photo, Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, questions Dr. Susan McCauley, Interim Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, during a Senate Education Committee on SB 191 at the Capitol. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Dunleavy quits governor’s race; Huggins is in

There’s been a shakeup in the Republican lineup for the 2018 governor’s race.

On Tuesday morning, Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, announced that he is suspending his campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. In a separate move, former Senate President Charlie Huggins of Wasilla indicated that he will seek the Republican nomination.

Huggins has filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, an act that allows him to begin raising money for his campaign.

Huggins’ wife, Becky, confirmed the news on Anchorage talk radio and said her husband was out moose hunting. No one returned a message left by the Empire on the phone number listed for the campaign.

Dunleavy’s announcement, sent by email just before 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, said the senator is dealing “with a health issue that needs his attention” and “recently underwent a procedure to correct a condition he has been dealing with that is not life-threatening but is important to resolve.”

[Meet Mike Dunleavy, the first big Republican to file for governor.]

The email said the senator will need time to heal and recover, a process that could take weeks or months.

“Until that occurs, his campaign for governor will be suspended,” the statement said.

He will make a final decision later about whether to permanently end the campaign.

The actions of Huggins and Dunleavy leave only one significant Republican candidate in the race for governor. Incumbent Gov. Bill Walker has filed for re-election as an independent.

Michael Sheldon of Petersburg has filed with the Division of Elections as a Republican seeking the governor’s office, and Kirk Wilson and Jacob Kern of Anchorage have filed letters of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission indicating they intend to seek the governor’s office.

Huggins, who retired from the Legislature in 2016, served as Senate President when Republicans dissolved the bipartisan Senate Majority following the 2012 general election.

Born in Florida, he served in the U.S. Army for 25 years, including during the Vietnam War.

Also Tuesday, Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski and the former Speaker of the House, filed an incomplete letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. The filing said only that Chenault intends to run for a statewide office, and it allows him to raise money.

In an email sent to state reporters Tuesday afternoon, Chenault said, “I am looking at all the options to see if the support is there to run for governor in 2018.”


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


Senate President Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, waits for senators to arrive during a ‘call of the house’ as the Senate takes up the Alaska gasline development bill at the Capitol on Friday, April 12, 2013. Huggins has filed to run for governor. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Senate President Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, waits for senators to arrive during a ‘call of the house’ as the Senate takes up the Alaska gasline development bill at the Capitol on Friday, April 12, 2013. Huggins has filed to run for governor. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Senate President Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, speaks during a press availability at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Huggins has filed to run for Governor. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Senate President Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, speaks during a press availability at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Huggins has filed to run for Governor. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, gives reporters an update on negotiations in his office at the Capitol on Friday, April 24, 2015. Chenault has announced he is considering a run for governor in 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, gives reporters an update on negotiations in his office at the Capitol on Friday, April 24, 2015. Chenault has announced he is considering a run for governor in 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

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