Walker’s campaign walks back bid for Democratic Primary
After stating Tuesday that Gov. Bill Walker would be filing in the Democratic party’s open primary election in August, Walker’s campaign announced Wednesday that Walker’s plans now hinge on whether former U.S. Senator Mark Begich makes a bid for the seat.
On Tuesday, Walker’s Campaign Director, John-Henry Heckendorn, said that both Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott planned to run as Independents in the Democratic Primary.
“As of 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,” Heckendorn wrote.
But on Wednesday morning, Heckendorn issued a statement explaining that might not be the case after all.
“If Mark Begich decides to run in the Democratic primary at the last minute, Bill and Byron will run as independents via nominating petition, based on those criteria,” Heckendorn said in a statement Wednesday, meaning Walker would run only in the general election, not in the Democratic Primary.
“They are not interested in a destructive primary, and they are absolutely committed to making sure that Alaskans have an independent choice on November 6th,” Heckendorn added.
Meanwhile, the Alaska Republican party is relishing Walker’s apparent walk-back.
“You've been allied with the Democrats since you got elected. They changed their rules to allow you to run in the primary. You said you were going to run in the Primary, Bill Walker, then do it,” said Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock. “Don't run for cover as soon as a strong opponent emerges. Take him on in the primary and see if you're really the choice of the Democrats.”
Another possible choice in the Democratic primary is sitting Anchorage senator Bill Wielechowski.
Wielechowski said Wednesday that he is considering a bid for the governor's seat.
Wielechowski sued the state in 2016 over Walker's cut to Permanent Fund dividend checks.
Both Wielechowksi and Mark Begich have advocated for constitutional protection of the Permanent Fund dividend program.
Wielechowski says that if Begich enters the race, he will support him.
Earlier this week, pollster Ivan Moore discussed the potential outcomes of a match-up between Begich and Walker in the Democratic Primary.
Questions or comments about this story? Email reporter Liz Raines.
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