AFL-CIO sticking to the union with Walker?



In an interview with KTOO-FM, the head of Alaska’s AFL-CIO says that Gov. Bill Walker deserves another term.

By their own poll, the AFL-CIO said this week that Walker and former Sen. Mark Begich are tied at 28 percent in the contest for governor.

But union President Vince Beltrami stopped short of endorsing Walker, because he wants one of the men to drop. He said a three-way race just won’t work for the goals of the union. He also has to wait for his membership to vote.

Beltrami said the governor deserves re-election but the AFL-CIO will make its official endorsement on Aug. 24 – if two-thirds of its unions can agree.

“If I had to make a bet, I would say that, if we can get an endorsement, if we can get two-thirds, that it would be more for Gov. Walker at this point, because folks believe that he’s earned re-election in our eyes,” Beltrami told the public broadcasting station.

In 2014, Beltrami told Walker and Byron Mallott that the union would sit on its hands — and its campaign money — until the two came up with a combination ticket, which they did by ditching their respective running mates.

With the agreement of the Alaska Democratic Party, they put former Republican (now undeclared) Walker at the top of their ticket, and the man whom Democrats had elected as their nominee, Democrat Byron Mallott, as lieutenant governor.

That combination won against sitting Gov. Sean Parnell, but they had to disenfranchise their primary voters to do so, reorganizing a more powerful ticket and ignoring what the primary voters had decided. The running mates who were ditched to make it possible? Craig Fleener and Hollis French. They received plum jobs from Walker, byt the way.

Beltrami is hoping to pull the same kind of power play again to reduce the likelihood of handing a victory to Republican Mike Dunleavy, the current Republican frontrunner.

The polling numbers that Beltrami released Monday tell him that either Walker or Begich has to yield the field.

Harstad Strategic Research, which conducted the poll, is a Colorado company that works for Democrats, most notably with Barack Obama. Harstad worked on behalf of the former president since 2002 and takes credit for a much of his electoral success. The company has also helped the fortunes of former Sens. Ken Salazar of Colorado, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mark Udall of Colorado, and Gov. Tom Vilsack of Ohio. Here’s the company’s analysis of the Alaska governor’s race, based on its polling:



AFL-CIO’s Vince Beltrami and Joelle Hall.


Under Walker’s administration, and under the union presidency of Beltrami, the AFL-CIO has lost much of its private sector workforce, while the state workforce remains mostly intact. State workers are now Beltrami’s base.

But with the recent Janus decision, which Gov. Walker decried publicly, the union no longer can take money from government workers’ and retirees’ pockets without their permission.

Whether Beltrami has the political testosterone he had in 2014 remains to be seen in this post-Janus era.

Yet others are now involved in the full-court press to advance just one gubernatorial team from the Left.

Rep. Les Gara penned an appeal in the Anchorage Daily News to turn up the heat, and columnist Charles Wohlforth has opined that a three-way race hands the governorship to the Republicans, and that either Begich or Walker need to step off.

Walker said he’s sure the campaigns are talking to each other: “I anticipate there will be communications to a certain degree going forward and I think that’s probably a necessary piece to somewhat simplify the race to a two-way rather than a three-way,” he told KTOO.

That is far less than a resounding “No way am I dropping,” from Walker. But he already yielded the Democrats’ primary ballot to Begich, knowing he wasn’t strong enough to beat him in a two-way. Walker decided to go the petition route to the General Election, rather than face Begich in the primary.

It’s unheard of for a sitting governor to simply yield. Even Gov. Frank Murkowski stayed in the race, ending up with 18 percent of the primary vote against Sarah Palin and John Binkley. His prospects were poor, but he didn’t walk away. Governors (with the exception of a nationally-focused Sarah Palin) don’t just walk away.

But neither do Begiches, especially former sitting U.S. Sen. Begich, who is relatively young and intends to have a long political career.

Would either of these men take the back seat to the other?

The pressure is on, and although Republicans have a leading candidate for governor in Mike Dunleavy (with all polls showing him at the front of the pack), a lot of election shenanigans can happen between now and Sept. 2, when Democrats and Walker could craft another combo ticket to present to the voters.


  1. This is outrageous conduct. If this sort of subterfuge and manipulation of the democratic process were being done by the Koch brothers people like Representative Les Gara and Charles Wohlforth would be demanding a United Nations investigation. Jimmy Carter would hobble up here to look at the election. Instead, because it’s done by union bosses and Democrats we simply accept it and Communist Radio reports it like it’s a normal part of any campaign. With Tony Soprano machinations done as forthrightly as this, and without any justice system oversight in our election processes, every Republican running for office in Alaska this year needs to be armed at all times!

  2. Beltrami is in charge? This is just too blatant. “State workers are now Beltrami’s base.” Walker is a whore. Beltrami’s his pimp. This article makes me wonder if Begich has the balls to state he is not Beltrami’s bi**h.

  3. It is worth noting that the spokesman for the politically correct and so-fashionable in Anchorage, Charles Wohlforth, recently maintained that Hollis French was entirely altruistic in dropping from the Democratic ticket. I guess that appointment to the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was accidental.

    Too many accept Mr. Wohlforth’s views, which usually include a deep reverence for those on the Left – Tony Knowles comes to mind – as the gospel truth. In the wind-up to the November election, look for Mr. Wohlforth to market more than one myth as fact and you can bet that all the positives will accrue to those on the Left.

  4. We know that Walker will leave Alaska worse than it was when he came in. No doubt about that. The question for Alaskans is whether 4 years is enough or if instead we want 8 years of calamity. It’s up to us. If we are not working hard on the Dunleavy campaign today and every day then we need to be looking at what other state would be best if circumstances force us to leave Alaska. Walker wants you to leave Alaska unless you use SNAP and Medicaid, or you sit in a cubicle for 37.5 hours per week dispensing money for those programs.

  5. Beltrami is none to bright. Witness his campaign for a senate seat two years ago. He claimed that he would represent the people in District , but, as anyone who pays attention to Alaska politics knows, Beltrami is only interested in promoting the interests of organized labor. There is nothing wrong with that if you are a union official. In fact it would be strange if you didn’t. But an elected official is supposed to represent the people his/her District.
    That’s the reason several Alaskans got together and formed an Independent Expenditure which was instrumental in Beltrami’s defeat.
    Now Beltrami’s stripes are revealed again by this article. He is only interested in advancing the interests of his union members which, is appropriate given his position. He knows that Walker will dance to Beltrami’s tune.
    Alaska needs a fiscal conservative who will reduce the operating budget, restore the PFD and NOT IMPOSE NEW TAXES.
    It can be done folks and Mike Dunleavy knows what needs to be done and how to do it.

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