Walker gains NEA-Alaska endorsement for governor
The National Education Association’s Alaska chapter has endorsed Gov. Bill Walker as he seeks a second term, a day after a major labor organization did so.
Members of the educator group’s Political Action Committee for Education voted Saturday to back Walker over Democratic challenger and former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, according to a statement.
“For educators throughout Alaska, Gov. Walker is the right candidate,” NEA-Alaska President Tim Parker said in the statement. “His work to support forward funding for education and his commitment to address the issues of attracting and retaining quality educators fits with NEA-Alaska’s positions and values.”
When asked about an education plan Begich rolled out as part of his campaign, Parker replied, "Walker’s plan has actually been in action, and we’ve been part of it. And I give the governor a lot of credit."
"There’s a lot of groups to align. And Governor Walker’s work has pulled the groups together. We’re together and committed to the Alaska Education Challenge, and to improving education in Alaska, and really putting a focus on student learning. It’s tough to look away from that," Parker added.
The decision follows that by members of the Alaska AFL-CIO at its Fairbanks convention to back Walker.
Parker said AFL-CIO's decision informed NEA-Alaska's decision to endorse the Independent candidate. 'We saw what they were doing and took note of that as we took note of many other polls and other information that’s out there," Parker said. "I look at our friends in labor and we have a lot of the same issues."
Begich said in a response to the AFL-CIO's Friday’s decision that he would continue to fight for union workers, despite their backing of a “candidate who has a one-issue agenda.”
Begich has received an endorsement this week from the Alaska Center, which "works to elect candidates who support policies that protect clean air and water, healthy communities, and a strong democracy."
“Our top priority this election cycle is Yes for Salmon Ballot Measure 1," said Polly Carr, the center's executive director. "Begich is the only gubernatorial candidate to not oppose the initiative, and has stated support for Alaskans to have a voice and a vote on this issue.”
A day later, Begich was also endorsed by 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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