Fairbanks area candidates are gearing up for early campaigning for the 2020 election next November. Several candidates, both incumbents and newcomers, have registered for the 2020 State House and Senate elections.
Here’s a breakdown of who has filed and how:
• Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, has filed for reelection for Senate District B. Coghill has held his seat in the Senate since 2009 after serving as a representative from 1999-2008. Coghill, who filed for reelection last Thursday, does not have a competitor.
• Rep. Grier Hopkins, D-Fairbanks, has filed for reelection to for House District 4. Hopkins was elected as a freshman representative to the House in 2018 replacing his uncle, former Democratic Rep. David Guttenberg, for the House seat, which represents much of Ester, Goldstream Valley and Farmers Loop. At the moment, Hopkins is running unopposed. Hopkins filed for reelection in June.
• Rep. Bart LeBon, R-Fairbanks, has filed for reelection for House District 1. LeBon narrowly won his House seat as a freshman representative in 2018 in a race against Kathryn Dodge. Both were newcomers to the race as now-Sen. Scott Kawasaki left his House seat open when he ran against former Republican Sen. Pete Kelly for Senate District A. LeBon filed for reelection Oct. 7.
• Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, has filed a letter of intent but has not officially registered for reelection to House District 2. Thompson told the Daily News-Miner Monday he is still trying to decide if he wants to run again. The Fairbanks Republican has served in the House since 2011. Thompson filed his letter of intent in September.
• Renee Friar, project manager and housing director for Fisher Properties, has also filed a letter of intent to run for House District 2. Friar does not have experience in state government but has previously served on the Fairbanks City Council as well as on multiple governing boards including the Fairbanks Parking Authority, the Fairbanks North Star Borough Planning Commission, the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Management and Fairbanks Neighborhood Housing Services. She is former chairwoman of the Golden Valley Electric Association membership advisory board.
Like Thompson, Friar told the Daily News-Miner on Monday afternoon that she is still in the process of deciding if she wants to officially register to run for office. Friar filed her letter of intent on Oct. 24.
• Republican newcomer Kevin McKinley has registered to run against Incumbent Democratic Rep. Adam Wool for House District 5. McKinley is the founder and owner of Body Piercing Unlimited, a tattoo and piercing shop with locations in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Palmer.
Wool has not filed a letter of intent or registered for reelection yet but told the Daily News-Miner on Monday afternoon that he fully intends to file to run again.
McKinley, who filed last Friday, ran against Wool last year; a race in which Wool beat McKinley by 301 votes.
• North Pole Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson and Healy Republican Rep. Dave Talerico’s seats are also up for election. Neither representative has filed with APOC yet.
However, Julia Hnilicka, a political newcomer from Nenana has filed a letter of intent to run for Talerico's District 6 House seat. Hnilicka, a graduate student in the rural development program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, has not officially registered as a candidate yet. Hnilicka received her undergraduate degree in psychology from UAF and is an intern with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals. She filed her letter of intent Oct. 30.
While it may seem early to be thinking about next year’s election for some, lawmakers running for reelection must think ahead as they are not allowed to actively campaign during the Legislative session. That includes special sessions. So if the Legislature goes into a series of special sessions long into the summer again this coming year, that leaves little time to pick up active campaigning again before the August primary.
All candidates wishing to run for state government must register with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.