Alaska AFL-CIO endorses Walker over Begich for governor
A major Alaska labor organization has endorsed incumbent Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott as he seeks re-election, in a potential blow to Democratic challenger Mark Begich.
According to the Alaska AFL-CIO, delegates attending the group’s convention in Fairbanks voted to back Walker, who is facing Begich as well as GOP nominee Mike Dunleavy to keep his seat.
“[Walker and Begich] addressed the convention delegates and explained their vision for the future,” Vince Beltrami, the group’s president, said in a statement. “We have a long relationship with both candidates and they each have a strong record of supporting working families. The question before us, and Alaskans, is whether Governor Walker has done enough to earn a second term. The delegates overwhelmingly think he does.”
In a response to the endorsement, Begich said he would continue to campaign on his values, which include "fighting for Alaska's families."
"Today, the AFL-CIO endorsed a candidate who has a one-issue agenda, but I hear from union members and working families all across this state who are concerned about increasing crime, inconsistent education funding, and a lack of long-term fiscal stability," Begich said.
"All I can say is thank you to the AFL-CIO," Walker said. "Alaska's workers have sacrificed for three and a half years o help achieve a compromise on a long-term fiscal plan. I'm humbled that those men and women have doubled down on the tough choices Byron and I have made."
Beltrami recently made headlines when he said a poll conducted on the AFL-CIO’s behalf suggests either Walker or Begich should drop out of the race or join the other's ticket, to avoid a projected Dunleavy victory if the two split the union vote. Both Begich and Walker have denied any plans to leave the race.
Begich did receive an endorsement Friday from Alaskans Together for Equality, which describes itself as the state's largest member-based LGBTQ organization. Elias Rojas, the group's board president, said in a statement that Begich is "the only candidate in the race with a record of supporting equality for all Alaskans."
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