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Mark Begich makes campaign stop in Juneau

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Begich made a campaign stop Thursday in Juneau, speaking to about 45 people at the local IBEW union hall.

As attendees munched on pizza, Begich tried to distance himself from his principal challengers in this year’s gubernatorial race: independent incumbent Bill Walker and former state senator Mike Dunleavy, who is viewed as the leading Republican candidate.

The former U.S. senator entered the race just hours before the filing deadline, and in Juneau — one of Alaska’s Democratic strongholds — his task will be to convince voters to select him over Walker.

“I believe I can win,” Begich said. “I don’t get into races to lose.”

For more than an hour, he answered questions from the audience and explained how his experience as a former Anchorage mayor prepares him to be governor. Begich attempted to draw parallels between Anchorage’s situation when he was elected mayor in 2003, and Alaska’s situation today.

At the time, Begich said, Anchorage faced a severe budget crisis, and voters lacked confidence in their municipal government. He managed to fix those problems, he asserted, and claimed that he can do the same for Alaska at large.