Gov. Bill Walker ended his bid for re-election on Oct. 19, in the midst of the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage and threw his support to Democratic candidate Mark Begich in the election, now less than two weeks away.
Walker said he had discussed the matter with many Alaskans this week, to determine whether he or Begich had a better chance of running in a competitive race against Republican Mike Dunleavy and concluded that Begich, a former Anchorage mayor and former U.S. Senator, had better odds.
“Alaska First is, and cannot only be, a campaign slogan,” Walker said. “When I said I ran for governor to do the job, not make the decisions to keep the job, I meant exactly what I said. Every decision I have made as your governor, I have made on the basis of what I believe is best for Alaska.
“With that said, effective today, I am suspending my campaign for re-election as governor. With more time, I am confident that Val (newly appointed Lt. Gov. Valerie Davidson) and I could deliver a message and a campaign that could earn a victory in this election. Davidson was appointed following the abrupt resignation of Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott.
”But there are only 18 days remaining before election day,” Walker said. “Absentee ballots have already been mailed, and Alaskans are already voting. In the time remaining, I believe we cannot win a three-way race.”
In a statement issued by his campaign, the governor said that Dunleavy’s record and campaign rhetoric indicate that he would eliminate a Medicaid Expansion that has provided health care access to 44,000 Alaskans, created jobs and brought $1 billion federal dollars into the Alaskan economy while decreasing state health care expenditures by $16 million, kept hospitals from closing and saved lives.
Walker also contended that Dunleavy would defund the Alaska liquid natural gasline project and undo the bipartisan approved sustainable fiscal plan that has brought fiscal stability, significantly reduce the deficit, improved the state’s credit rating, and preserved the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend program into perpetuity.
Several hundred people packed into the ballroom of the Dena’ina Convention Center gave Walker a standing ovation. Representatives of the Alaska regional Native corporations also thanked Walker for all he has done for the state and Alaska Native people, and he was presented with the gift of two chief’s necklaces.
This is a developing story. More details to com.