Begich Announces Candidacy
for U.S. Senate
April 21, 2008
Saying he has heard the call from Alaskans who want him to go
to Washington, DC to fight for Alaska, Mark Begich announced
today that he is running for the U.S. Senate. Nearly eight weeks
after forming an exploratory committee that allowed him to travel
the state hearing the concerns of Alaskans, Begich said the message
was Alaska is facing real challenges and it's time for a change.
"I had the chance to talk one-on-one with people in communities
all across this state Bethel, Kotzebue, Sitka, Kenai, Fairbanks,
Juneau, Soldotna, and the Mat-Su," Begich said. "I
wanted to hear how Alaskans are doing, what they're concerned
about, and I wanted to know if they thought it was time for a
change in Washington, DC. And you know what their answer was?
Begich made the announcement at a noon gathering at the Mountain
View Community Center. Joined by his wife, Deborah, his young
son, Jacob, his mother Pegge, and a number of extended family
members, Begich said Alaska is an independent state, with jobs
and a strong economy, but there is much work to do for all Alaskans.
"It's costing more and more to fuel our cars, heat our homes,
and feed our families. And that means it's getting harder and
harder to pay for health care, save for college, plan for retirement
or even just pay the rent or the mortgage."
Begich, 46, was first elected Mayor of Anchorage in April 2003.
He was re-elected in 2006 by one of the largest margins in the
city's history. He pointed to some of the successes of the city
under his administration including filling a $33 million budget
gap he inherited when first elected, working with the voters
to pass bonds to support neglected public facilities, build roads,
improve libraries and parks and improving public safety.
"The first thing we did was restore their trust," Begich
said. "We eliminated the deficit by cutting waste, consolidating
and privatizing services, and investing in what matters most
more police, more fire fighters, more fire stations, better
roads and improving our neighborhoods."
Begich pointed out that Anchorage is a major engine in Alaska's
economy, with over 9,000 new jobs in the past five years, a balanced
budget, property tax relief for homeowners, and a bond rating
that is in the top five percent in the country. With tens of
millions of dollars in private investment, and hundreds of millions
in new investment approved by voters, Begich said voters trust
their city government again.
"Government has to get the basics done right. That's a lesson
they should learn in Washington."
Begich told the dozens of supporters gathered for the announcement
that he respects the work Ted Stevens has done for the last 40
years and respects Stevens' service in World War II. But Alaska
was a much younger state when Stevens went to Washington in 1968,
and the country and Alaskans have different needs today.
Begich said Alaska needs a senator as independent as Alaska.
Someone who doesn't answer to special interests, someone committed
to transparent government who keeps everything out in the open
and always puts Alaska first.
"More than ever before, at a time of great national turmoil,
we need creative solutions. But most importantly, we need Alaskan
solutions rather than six more years of the same."
Begich said he's proud to be a Democrat, but he's an Alaska Democrat.
He said he's not afraid to disagree with national Democrats on
issues such as ANWR and guns rights, because they're wrong on
those issues. Saying it's irresponsible to run up the deficit
and the national debt to where they are today, Begich said he'll
also disagree with Republicans, especially on their fiscal policies.
Begich detailed several specific proposals to address energy
costs, health care, ethics and transparency in government, and
keeping America's promises to veterans. On energy, he said Alaskans
want to know why they pay more for fuel than most, when oil is
being drilled and refined in Alaska. He said Alaska's senator
can be doing more about it.
"First we have to think outside the box. Yes, we need to
open up ANWR, and I will fight strongly for ANWR by working across
party lines instead of name-calling. But Alaska holds a lot of
cards in the oil game. It's time we use them for our state."
Begich said the oil companies need Alaska just as much as Alaska
needs them, especially if they want to start profiting from the
natural gas buried in our land.
"I think it's time we had a senator who used every ounce
of his clout to push the oil companies to do what's right for
Alaskans. It's something our senator should be fighting for everyday."
Begich called for an Alaska Energy Plan that includes non-renewable
and renewable sources. Pointing out that he joined the mayors
of the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the Mat-Su Borough in writing
an Alaska Energy Plan, Begich said Alaska should be leading the
nation in developing alternative sources of power to lower energy
costs at home and provide a new source of income for Alaskans
for generations to come. He said such a policy should be an umbrella
under which a natural gas pipeline would finally get built, something
Alaska's delegation has given up on.
Other initiatives Begich said he would spearhead as senator include
joining military veteran and Senator Jim Webb in the effort to
expand the G.I. Bill. Depending on how long they've served, veterans
could get educational benefits for the full cost of a college
degree anywhere, like the University of Alaska.
Begich said Alaska also needs a senator who will address the
unique health care needs of Alaska, expanding medical facilities
and investing in technology so people can access specialty care
and experts anywhere in the state. He also called for the need
to increase Medicare reimbursements so doctors in Alaska can
afford to treat their elderly patients, and the need to expand
Denali KidCare to include more of Alaska's children.
On education, Begich called the federal No Child Left Behind
Act "a disaster" for Alaska and said he'll demand the
supplemental funding the federal government promised, so all
students can achieve their highest academic potential. He also
said he'll work for vital pre-school funding.
Working toward a more open government, Begich said he'll work
to pass the Federal Transparency Act to include financial disclosure
forms detailing every dollar of income a senator and their spouse
receives, and making them available on the internet. It would
also include posting every meeting between an elected official
and a lobbyist on the web. And he supports an independent ethics
board of citizens to keep politicians in Washington honest.
"I believe the only way to restore trust in government is
for government to earn it. We've seen here in Alaska the ultimate
result of unfettered greed; grainy videotapes of state legislators
in hotel rooms laughing at the citizens of this state. And we've
seen in Washington the ultimate result of special interest and
legislative indifference. Whether it's a national debt that's
killing the economy, or secret deals behind closed doors that
hurt Alaskans, the fact is, Alaska deserves better."
Begich recalled the memory of his father, Congressman Nick Begich
who died in a plane crash 36 years ago when Mark was ten.
"It had a huge impact on our family and on this state. People
ask me what would have happened if he had lived? That's how I
look at life today. What can I do today for some other ten-year-old,
so that 30 or 40 years from now, their life will be better? And
that's why this campaign is so important. Only with your help
will be successful. Together we will build a strong future for
The Primary Election will be
held August 26, 2008. Races to appear on the ballot are one United
States Senate Seat, one United States House of Representative
Seat, 10 State Senate Seats and all 40 House of Representative
Seats and ballot measures. The General Election will
On the Web:
Alaska Division of Elections
Unofficial Candidate List -- 2008 Primary Election
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