The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Ketchikan Daily News 

Guest opinion:

It should be about what's best for Alaska


October 24, 2018

Last week proved - once again - that anything can happen in Alaska politics, and not just once in less than a week, but twice.

It did similarly in 2014 and 1990, too.

It began with Gov. Bill Walker announcing the resignation of now-former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. Just three weeks before the Nov. 6 statewide election, Mallott did what's best for Alaska and resigned because he had made inappropriate comments to a woman who has chosen not to be identified. Walker is complying with her request.

Then on Friday, Walker, who remained in a three-way race to retain the Governor's House, suspended his campaign and threw his support to Democrat and former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, explaining that his view of the future for the state not only aligned more with Begich than Republican challenger and former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy, but he feared for the state with what looked like at the time an impending Dunleavy administration.

Walker told an Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage that his decision is about what's best Alaska and not what's best for himself. That has been Walker's view since he set out on the campaign trail more than four years ago.

Surprises in Alaska's gubernatorial races aren't new. In 2014, Walker, a Republican at the time, turned independent, and Mallott, who was the Democrats' gubernatorial candidate, teamed up and overpowered then-incumbent Sean Parnell and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, Republicans.

Back in 1990, Walker Hickel, who had previously served as governor from 1966 to 1969, upset the gubernatorial campaigns of Democrat Tony Knowles and Republican Arliss Sturgulewski by joining the race after the primary election. Hickel filed as the candidate for the Alaska Independence Party, which had set aside John Lindauer to create the vacancy on the ticket, and turned the next six weeks into a successful campaign. Jack Coghill served as his lieutenant governor.

Both in 2014 and 1990, the eventual winners declared they were doing what was best for Alaska.

As Walker left the AFN stage, obviously emotional and clearly still reeling from the loss of Mallott, whom Walker had declared a soulmate, Dunleavy led in the polls. As of Oct. 14, Dunleavy polled at 43 percent compared to Walker and Begich with about 26 percent each, according to Alaska Survey Research.

New polls will be forthcoming with Walker's announcement, and the lead might have changed for Dunleavy. Earlier polls had shown him at 46 percent. Walker's and Begich's poll numbers combined give Dunleavy's opposition 52 percent.

The AFN has declared it will get out the vote for Begich, but Democrats are far fewer than Republicans in Alaska. It's the unaffiliated voters with an Alaska-size independence, who will decide on the state's next chief executive.

But, anything can happen yet with a little over two weeks to go to Election Day.

When all is said and done, however, the outcome should be what's best for Alaska. Alaskans will decide that.


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