Alan Gross, who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Dan Sullivan in 2020, has announced he will be a candidate in the special primary to replace the late Congressman Don Young.
Former State Sen. John Coghill of Fairbanks also made it official, signing up for the special primary for the congressional seat at the Division of Elections in Fairbanks.
Gross, who was raised in Juneau, is a Petersburg resident. He said in a press release he will also file for the full two-year seat. The filing deadline for the temporary seat is April 1, and several prominent Alaskans have indicated they are interested in running. That special election is set for June 11.
The top four vote-getters in the special primary election, which is a mail-in-only election, will appear on a ranked choice ballot at the same time as the regular primary election on Aug. 16.
Alaska has had a Republican representing them in the House of Representatives for 49 years, but with the death of Congressman Young, Democrats and undeclared Democrats like Gross are seeing an opportunity.
Gross, after losing his bid for Senate in 2020, went on to lose his bid to serve on the hospital board of his hometown clinic.
During his campaign for Senate, Gross was recorded telling a group of Democrats he leans left and would caucus with Democrats.
With massive resources behind him in 2020, Gross raised and spent $19,393,431, and independent groups such as the Lincoln Project spent tens of millions of dollars more. In the final count, 146,068 Alaskans voted for Gross, which puts him in a strong spot for this congressional race, almost assuring him a spot in the “Final Four.”
Republican frontrunner Nick Begich filed for the seat in October. His campaign has over $1 million in receipts since he filed.
The Democrats’ frontrunner Chris Constant, as well as Gregg Brelsford, William “Bill” Hibler III, Robert “Bob” Lyons, J.R. Myers and Stephen Wright have also filed. But with Gross in the race, it’s likely that Constant will lose some support. Politicos say that the Alaska Democratic Party is throwing its weight behind Gross, rather than Constant.
As for former Sen. Coghill, he is well-liked by many Republicans but would be starting his congressional career at the age of 75 and would not have a long runway to develop political seniority for Alaska, which has just one seat in the U.S. House.
Congressman Young died on March 18 on the way home to Alaska. He will lie in state at the Capitol on Tuesday.