The possibility of a Mark Begich Senate comeback bid has suddenly become more conceivable.
There are three reasons why: The Alaska Democrat is not running for mayor of Anchorage; he says he is getting encouragement to run for Congress; and he is embarking on a business venture that will keep him squarely at the intersection of Washington and Alaska issues.
Begich released a statement on his Facebook page Saturday saying that he is creating a consulting company called Northern Compass Group focusing on "business development and public policy."
The most immediate impact of his decision is that he won't be running for Anchorage mayor, since the election is in April. Begich was mayor of Anchorage from 2003 until 2009, when he started his first and only term in the Senate.
In his new job, Begich says he will split time between Washington and Alaska, as his son finishes middle school in the nation's capital. He says he will be working for Alaska regional airline Grant Aviation and the National Association of Home Health Care and Hospice.
Here's a line from Begich's statement that sounds like it's coming from someone who may want to run for office again: "I will be able to continue my work on public policy in Alaska and focus on important issues like the arctic, fisheries, resource development, education, veterans, and housing."
Asked about running for the House or Senate, Begich sounded open to the idea.
"I’m not going to speculate what I will do," he told the Alaska Dispatch News. He added: “But I know there’s a lot of people that would love to see me run," and “those options are always on the table but at the time they’re not what I’m focusing on.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is up for reelection in 2016. Democrats will be recruiting candidates to try to unseat her. Begich's experience as a senator could make him a top option for the party.
A Begich-Murkowski race would come on the heels of a tense 2014 campaign. Begich ran ads mentioning Murkowski as part of an effort to cast himself as a bipartisan figure. Murkowski, who backed Begich's opponent, now-Sen. Dan Sullivan (R), was not happy with the Democrat's strategy.
Begich could also opt to run against Rep. Don Young (R) in 2016.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the Alaska Senate contest as "Likely Republican."