An Anchorage Democrat has filed preliminary paperwork to oppose Republican Gov. Sean Parnell's bid for re-election.
Sen. Hollis French on Wednesday submitted a letter of intent to the state Division of Elections. Now he can start fundraising and other efforts to measure support he is likely to find around the state.
French is a former state prosecutor serving his fourth term in the Alaska Senate. He narrowly defeated a November challenge by Republican opponent Bob Bell, emerging from a recount with a 59-vote lead.
"I've had great support from family, from friends, from my inner circle, and now I want to have a conversation on a larger scale to see if I'm the right candidate to replace this governor with somebody who's more pro-Alaska," French said in an interview with Channel 2.
French started laying out his case against Parnell, who he described as a former oil industry lobbyist, focusing in particular on three issues.
"My belief is that this governor is leading us in the wrong direction on a lot of fronts, notably oil taxes, but also education and healthcare," French said.
Parnell campaign manager Jerry Gallagher swung back in a statement, saying the governor is the only candidate in the race committed to lower taxes, fighting federal overreach and increasing education opportunities.
"So far, the other candidates for governor, including Hollis French, mirror President Obama's policies of higher taxes and bigger government," campaign officials wrote. "The voters will have a clear choice."
Bill Walker, a longtime candidate who previously ran as a Republican, has announced a bid for governor as an Independent.
After French's announcement, Walker said in a statement that he remains "focused on the November 2014 election concentrating solely on the solutions that are in the best interests of Alaskans without the constraints of party platforms."
In 2010, Parnell defeated Walker in the GOP primary, 50.1 percent to 33.1 percent. French lost the 2010 Democratic primary to Ethan Berkowitz, a former state representative, but he picked up 38.8 percent of the vote.
Other Anchorage Democrats in the Legislature have publicly mentioned the idea of a run, with Sen. Bill Wielechowski recently saying he was examining his prospects. While Rep. Les Gara had said he would run unless a candidate he likes stepped up, on Wednesday he said French is the candidate he was waiting for.
Channel 2's Chris Klint contributed information to this story.
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