Stakes high for Walker in Democratic primary
The last day to file for state office is this Friday, and many are watching and waiting to see who jumps into the governor's race between now and then.
Gov. Bill Walker has a lot on the line depending on what happens on the Democratic side.
Earlier this month, Walker announced he'd become the first Independent to run in the Democratic party's primary in August. So far, he's the only candidate with widespread name recognition on either side of the race.
Right now, Walker has some things going for him on his bid for re-election. He's teamed up again with Democratic party favorite, Byron Mallott. And, as of yet, there's nobody with as big a name on either side of the race.
While Walker's campaign says he'll run in the Democratic primary, he hasn't filed to do that yet -- a move pollster Ivan Moore says is strategic.
"He's kind of gotten into the ring and he's pounded his chest, and he's trying to scare people off, and essentially, take the primary route to the general, which, let’s face it, is easier," Moore said.
If Walker wins the Democratic primary, not only would he have the party's blessing but also up to $100,000 from the local party. It means Walker wouldn't have to collect signatures to get on the ballot in November and would guarantee he doesn't face a Democratic opponent in the general election.
"So, that's why I think Walker's getting into the primary-- so that he can basically make sure that no Democrats can get into the race and that he is the de facto Democrat. But, he hasn't filed because there's one Democrat who can beat him," Moore said.
When asked whether that Democrat was Begich, Moore replied, "perhaps."
Moore has conducted polls for both Begich and Walker and says if the two were to go head to head in the Democratic primary, it would be a close race.
"I think it would be a well-contested race and could go either way," Moore said.
While Walker has a lot to win, he also has a lot to lose. If he loses the Democratic primary, he loses the chance to be on the November ballot -- meaning his last hope would be to run as a write-in candidate.
But, that's only likely if Begich makes a bid.
"I like what I'm doing right now, I enjoy it," Begich said in an August 2017 interview. "We'll see what the future holds."
Begich has not responded to requests for comment.
For now, Begich appears to be keeping his cards close. Once he shows them, Alaskans will likely know what's in the cards for Walker.
John-Henry Heckendorn, director of Walker's campaign, says Walker plans to file for the Democratic primary in person on Friday.
Heckendorn says both Walker and Mallott plan to run as Independents in the Democratic Primary, as right now, that looks like the path that best satisfies their criteria of running together, standing by their values and being as competitive as possible in the general election.
Questions or comments about this story? Email reporter Liz Raines.
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