New Alaskan senator warm on Carson City
November 21, 2008
Mark Begich, the Alaska Democrat who won a protracted U.S. Senate fight on Tuesday, can now retreat to his Carson City property for a relaxing post-election soak.
Begich owns the Carson Hot Springs, and his mother, Pegge, is a Carson City resident.
The Anchorage mayor occasionally visits the historic hot springs at 1500 Old Hot Springs Road but keeps track of it mostly on a Webcam, leaving operations to a manager.
“I run businesses, not hobbies,” said Begich, 46.
Begich originally planned to buy property in Goldfield when he visited Nevada in the 1990s, but changed his mind when he saw the desert town, population 400.
“When we got there, I thought, ‘No, I don’t think so,” Begich said this week.
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But Begich, then a member of the Anchorage City Assembly, liked what he heard about a therapeutic six-acre resort in Carson City. He bought the hot springs in 1999.
Beating 85-year-old Republican incumbent Ted Stevens on Tuesday won’t change anything at the business, he said. Profits will continue to be put back into the hot springs that opened in 1849, he said, and renovations such as new hot tubs will continue.
Attorney Chris MacKenzie helped Begich with paperwork in buying the business.
“I saw him in the news and was like, ‘I know that dude,'” he said.
The senator-elect was a “good, all-around guy” who was thinking about running for mayor of Anchorage in 2000, MacKenzie said.
Begich lost the race that year, but was elected mayor in 2003.
His win as senator this year was even better, said his mother, Pegge Begich, who lives in Carson City and helped him campaign.
“I keep being speechless at times,” she said. “It’s wonderful. I’m so proud of him.”
Pegge Begich moved to Carson City in 2001 to help work at the hot springs, and plans to stay here.
“I love it here,” she said. “I love everything about this place.”
Brad Herndon, owner of Club JB Latin Nightclub at the Carson Hot Springs, said landlords and tenants don’t always agree on everything, but he and Mark Begich have a strong business relationship.
“There have been no contentious matters there for a long, long time,” said Herndon.
Herndon briefly operated the club as a cabaret in 2004. Both Begich and the city planning department objected to exotic dancers outside the city’s adult entertainment district.
“I said, ‘No,'” Begich said.
– Contact reporter Dave Frank at email@example.com or 881-1212.