Second run for Valdez city attorney and Port Authority backer
Bill Walker is taking a second shot Alaska’s governor’s seat.
Walker made the announcement during a press conference Thursday from his home in Anchorage. Surrounded by family, including his wife Donna, their four adult children, their spouses and grandchildren, Walker told the assembled press that he was worried about the future of the state, and specifically, the current political climate in Juneau. He said he hoped to represent voters by returning to old fashioned Alaskan concepts of accountability of politicians and business interests and perhaps most importantly, a return to the values espoused by former governors who embraced the concept that Alaska is a “owner state.”
“With me as governor, I will make sure the projects we’ve been looking at will get built,” he told the Valdez Star in a brief interview after Thursday’s announcement.
Walker, a lifelong Alaskan, ran for the Republican nomination in the 2010 gubernatorial primary; he netted about 33 percent of the vote, coming up short against incumbent Sean Parnell, who had taken office after the controversial resignation of Sarah Palin. Parnell took a little over 50 percent of the Republican vote in 2010, won the nomination and went on to win the election against Democratic contender Nathan Berkowitz.
Walker is well known in Prince William Sound and Copper Basin communities as the city attorney of Valdez and a well-known expert on Alaska’s natural gas issues, but until the 2010 elections, was not a household name in Alaska.
That may have changed since his 2010 run.
Headlines across the state – in some cases nationwide – touted Walker as the first credible GOP candidate to toss his name in the hat for the 2014 governor’s race.
Since the 2010 elections, Walker’s name recognition has sky-rocketed, thanks in part to highly publicized appearances before the Alaska legislature and a weekly TV show, “On Point with Bill Walker.”
A lifelong Alaskan, Walker has deep roots behind the scenes in Alaska politics and has not been shy about speaking out on issues he sees as harmful to the state’s citizens, often risking the ire of the Juneau establishment.
Donna Walker, his wife of 36 years who is also an attorney and owner in the firm Walker and Richardson, introduced him before Thursday’s announcement.
Standing together over the years – after marriage the couple attended law school at University of Puget Sound together – she delivered a heart-felt biography of her husband.
Walker was born in Fairbanks in April, 1951. His parents, Ed and Frances Walker, were true Alaska pioneers, she said. They met in the then Territory of Alaska having and married following Ed’s service as an Alaska Scout in the Aleutians during WW II. Bill was their fourth and youngest child.
He grew up in Delta, where the whole family worked.
“As a young boy, Bill labored with his family to keep food on the table. They lived in rural Alaska working construction, publishing a weekly newspaper, owning a restaurant and taking every odd job available to any family member,” she said. “In Delta, they lived in a log cabin without plumbing and ran with the buffalo at times to get to the outhouse in subzero weather. But they splurged the day Alaska became a state with ice cream cones at Delta’s local A&W.”
The family’s construction business was on its way when disaster hit – the 1964 earthquake. The family had materials on the Valdez Dock to build a hotel, which were lost when the dock disappeared.
“Bill helped the family avoid bankruptcy by securing the post office janitorial contract at the age of twelve, continuing to work with his dad and brother to help relocate and rebuild the town of Valdez,” she said.
He later put himself through college, and later became the youngest Valdez mayor at age 27.
After the press conference, Walker wasted no time in hitting the campaign trail. This, despite the fact that the primary election for the party nominations are still over a 15 months away. The primary is slated for August 26, 2014. The primary winners between the Republican and Democratic winners will face off in the general election on November 4.
Parnell has yet to publicly state his intentions in the 2014 governor’s race and is widely seen as a potential US Senate candidate.