Former Alaska senator jumps into governor race

Former Alaska senator jumps into governor race
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Former Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichFormer Alaska senator jumps into governor race Overnight Energy: Trump directs Perry to stop coal plant closures | EPA spent ,560 on customized pens | EPA viewed postcard to Pruitt as a threat Perez creates advisory team for DNC transition MORE (D-Alaska) is throwing his name into the race for the Alaska governor's mansion.

Begich, who served in the Senate from 2009 until 2015, made his plans official on Friday just before the candidate filing deadline. The announcement throws up an obstacle to Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, who is seeking reelection this year.

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After Begich's announcement, Walker said that he would forgo the state's Democratic primary, and would instead focus on collecting signatures to appear on the ballot in November, The Associated Press reported

Walker was elected in 2014 with Democratic support. He said Friday that he has "no interest in criticizing anyone for stepping up to serve their state."

"I appreciate the folks who worked hard to try to find a way to make this a two-way race. I understand that made things simpler from a strategic and technical perspective," Walker said, according to the AP.

"But I can tell you that I am as excited as I've ever been," he continued. "I am an Alaskan before I am anything else."

Alaska is set to hold its primaries in August. Former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell threw his name into the Republican race on Friday, as well. He's set to go up against several GOP hopefuls, including former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy.