In this Sept. 9, 2016 photo, Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) speaks at a flagpole dedication ceremony at the Nikiski Senior Center in Nikiski, Alaska. Chenault filed a letter of intent Tuesday to seek office in October 2018 and said he was gauging statewide support for a run for governor. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

In this Sept. 9, 2016 photo, Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) speaks at a flagpole dedication ceremony at the Nikiski Senior Center in Nikiski, Alaska. Chenault filed a letter of intent Tuesday to seek office in October 2018 and said he was gauging statewide support for a run for governor. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

Chenault tests waters for gubernatorial bid

Nikiski’s state legislator is looking for support for a run for state governor.

Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) announced his intention to run in October 2018 in a letter of intent filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission Tuesday. Though he did not list the office for which he intends to run in the letter of intent, he said he’s testing whether there’s adequate support for him to run for the governor’s seat.

“We’d been looking and talking about it for awhile, so I decided to put a letter of intent in, try to gauge how much support I have across the state, and then we’ll make a final decision in the next few weeks,” he said.

Chenault has served in the House of Representatives since 2002, and was the Speaker of the House from 2009–2016 until a bipartisan House caucus, formed just before the 2017 regular legislative session, displaced the Republican majority. Last session, he served as Minority Whip for the Republican minority. A longtime advocate for oil and gas development in the state, he has been a major supporter of a gasline project from the North Slope to Nikiski, though he has raised questions about Gov. Bill Walker’s efforts to build the pipeline through the most recent iteration, the Alaska LNG Project.

He said the decision comes from an “overall frustration” with the state’s direction and that he would hope to start a conversation about what services the government should provide and how they can be delivered more efficiently.

“I think there’s things that we could do, reduction in the size of government,” he said. “And while that’s kind of a cliché, or it’s easy to say, I think we’ve got to do that and bring the citizens of Alaska to the table and to talk about the services that the state provides and what the costs are compared to other states. It’s time.”

Chenault’s letter of intent allows him to begin fundraising and campaigning.

If Chenault does ultimately decide to run for governor, he will square off in the Republican primary against former Senate President Charlie Huggins of Wasilla, Jacob Seth Kern of Anchorage and Michael D. Sheldon of Petersburg. Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla), who had filed to run for governor in July, announced his intention to suspend his campaign due to an unspecified health issue on Wednesday.

Walker, an independent, has also announced his intention to run for re-election.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, gives reporters an update on negotiations in his office at the Capitol on Friday, April 24, 2015. Chenault has announced he is considering a run for governor in 2018.

Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, gives reporters an update on negotiations in his office at the Capitol on Friday, April 24, 2015. Chenault has announced he is considering a run for governor in 2018.

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