Second Republican enters race for lieutenant governor

Former Wasilla Rep. Lynn Gattis returns to politics after 2016 defeat

Rep. Lynn Gattis, R-Wasilla, left, speaks during a March 2016 meeting of the House Finance Committee. Gattis, who lost her bid for the Alaska Senate later that year, is running for lieutenant governor. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire file)

A second Republican has joined the race for lieutenant governor.

 

On Thursday, former Rep. Lynn Gattis filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, allowing her to begin fundraising. Gattis joins current state Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, in seeking the lieutenant governor’s office.

Current Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott has also said he will seek re-election.

Reached by phone at her home in Wasilla, Gattis said “lieutenant governor is a place that I think Alaska has not utilized like I think we could have.”

She said the lieutenant governor could be an ambassador for the state, promoting its benefits to industry. Gattis, who has decades of experience in aviation and is a licensed pilot, sees Alaska as a crossroads, not just for aviation, but for shipping.

“We need to diversify our economy,” she said.

If elected, she said election reform laws would be one of her top priorities.

“That’s one of the things the lieutenant governor does do,” she said.

She referenced problems revealed in a 2016 lawsuit over the results of the election to represent House District 40 and the age of the state’s election equipment.

Current Lt. Gov. Mallott has organized the creation of an elections working group to address some of those problems, but implementation of any suggested solutions will come after the 2018 election.

Before that election, Gattis said she will be campaigning across the state, flying from place to place.

“I love meeting people, I love listening,” she said.

Gattis, though born in California, was raised in Alaska and has lived in Anchorage, Gulkana, Cordova, Anchorage, Dillingham and Wasilla.

She has two children and was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 2012. She was re-elected in 2014 but in 2016 decided to run for Alaska Senate instead.

In that race, she was defeated by underdog challenger David Wilson.

“Sometimes, losing races, there’s a silver lining,” she said, adding that the defeat allowed her to lease out her farm and “clear the decks” to run for lieutenant governor.

While in the Legislature, Gattis took fiscally and socially conservative positions. In the 2016 session, she argued that further budget cuts are needed before the state increases taxes or spends from the Permanent Fund.

In the same year, she introduced a bill that would have restricted Planned Parenthood from teaching sexual education classes in Alaska schools. That bill failed to pass.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


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