- Associated Press - Sunday, February 1, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich said he has created a new consulting firm, with a health care trade organization and an Alaska-based airline among his first clients.

The Alaska Democrat announced Saturday that he has founded Northern Compass Group, which lists a physical address in Anchorage and mailing address in Washington, D.C., the Alaska Dispatch News (https://is.gd/4eGqvR) reported. The announcement puts an end to speculation that Begich could enter the race for Anchorage mayor, a position he held before winning his single term in the Senate.

Begich, who lost his re-election bid for the Senate to Republican challenger Dan Sullivan in November, said he received an “enormous amount” of encouragement to run for mayor. Begich said he believed he could win the race, but wanted a job that would allow his son, Jacob, to finish his last two years of middle school in Washington.

“Political office can come and go, but seventh and eighth grade only come once,” Begich said. “I might be chaperoning a few more dances than he thought.”

In his new role, Begich has been hired by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and Grant Aviation, he said. He expects to announce employees and additional clients soon, he added.

Begich said he was not going to speculate on whether his future plans include a run for the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate in 2016. “Those options are always on the table, but at the time they’re not what I’m focusing on,” he said.

The new role Begich has taken on should not hinder his political future if he should decide to run for the Senate again, said Marc Hellenthal, an Anchorage-based Republican pollster and consultant who is working for Dan Coffey, a conservative mayoral candidate. Begich’s decision to not seek the mayoral seat will likely spur a flurry of activity among prospective mayoral candidates who have stayed out of the race to leave the field clear in case Begich decided to run, Hellenthal said.

“No Democrat would have run as long as Begich was out there with the prospect of running,” he said.

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Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com

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