Politics

Begich Says He Won't Run for Senate

Former Alaska Democratic senator had contemplated a run for weeks

Former Sen. Mark Begich, seen here in 2014, is rumored to be contemplating a run for Alaska governor in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mark Begich said Thursday that he would not launch a write-in campaign for Senate in Alaska, ending weeks of speculation that the Democratic former senator was attempting an improbable comeback less than two years after losing re-election. 

"I feel like it's not the right time for me or my family," he said during an interview on a local Alaska radio station. 

Begich's decision is good news for Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who now remains a heavy favorite to win re-election in the red-tinted state. She faces underfunded Democratic nominee Ray Metcalfe, Libertarian Party nominee Joe Miller and independent Margaret Stock.

Miller defeated Murkowski in a Republican primary in 2010 but lost to her in the general election, when the incumbent launched a successful write-in campaign.  

Begich excited many Democrats when he unexpectedly announced two weeks ago that he was considering a write-in campaign. His comments surprised even many of the former senator's allies, few of whom suspected he would run for Senate after narrowly losing to Dan Sullivan in the 2014 midterm elections. 

But a belief that Begich was serious about considering a run intensified in the weeks that followed — even if skepticism remained that he would ultimately enter the race. 

Advisers said Begich was considering a run in part because he believed that Miller's presence on the ballot would take away conservative votes from Murkowski, leaving her vulnerable should Begich consolidate support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. 

"I will tell you it's been a tough decision over this last week especially," Begich said. 

The onetime mayor of Anchorage is widely believed to be contemplating a run for governor in 2018. Asked directly on Thursday if he would begin a gubernatorial campaign, Begich deflected.

“We’ll let the cards play out,” he said. 

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