Alaska governor struggles for approval; Begich circles


Gov. Bill Walker’s popularity has slipped in the past 12 months. The Alaska governor who ran as a nonpartisan candidate is now the fifth least approved of governor in the nation.

According to, the five worst-ranked governors are Chris Christie of New Jersey, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Dan Malloy of Connecticut, Rick Snyder of Michigan, and Bill Walker of Alaska.

Walker’s disapproval rating is 53 percent, and just 43 percent of those surveyed approve of his performance..

That rating is not as bad as the one found by the Ivan Moore poll, which was reported by the Alaska Dispatch News last fall. In that poll, Walker’s approval rating was 32 percent.

In the MorningConsult poll, more than 85,000 registered voters evaluated the job performance of their governors between January and March. (Full Methodology).

Carol Carman, who is the Republican chair of the District 9 Alaska Republicans, said many Alaskans are disappointed in Walker.

“Gov. Walker went to conservatives and talked like one, so many voted him into office. Now he makes appointments like Drew Phoenix to the Alaska Human Rights Commission, which will only serve to persecute us,” said Carman, who is a conservative Christian. “His economic policies are ruining our state. During our time of severe recession, instead of tightening the government’s belt through cuts, his proposal is to throw every kind of tax at us that he can.”

Walker came into office as a nonpartisan governor, after realizing he could not win the Republican primary. After the primary ended, he forged an agreement with the Alaska Democrats, who withdrew their candidate, Byron Mallott. Mallott then ran on the ticket with Walker and serves as his lieutenant governor.

Since taking office, he has pushed for income taxes, fuel taxes, corporate taxes, and taxes on oil production. He has not paid exploration companies the incentives they are owed and he confiscated half of Alaskans’ Permanent Fund dividends last year.

All of these actions have been unpopular, but the income tax push has been disastrous for him, said Tuckerman Babcock, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party.

“Governor Walker seems to think that a five percent cut in state [operating] spending is a disaster, but he has no problem with a seven percent cut to people’s income through a tax,” said Babcock. “He’s earning the nickname ‘Governor Taker.'”

“Governor Walker governs from the far left,” Babcock said. “He’s given up state sovereignty, and each year he introduces an unbalanced budget.”

In a poll commissioned by the Mark Begich-Jim Lottsfeldt financed MidnightSunAk blog, the Democrats appear to be trying to lure Joe Miller into the governor’s race for 2018, saying he would dominate the field.

As next year’s elections loom on the horizon and Walker’s approval ratings continue to sink, Mark Begich has begun circling the field. Begich’s polling shows that his best shot for winning is to ensure that conservatives have to choose between Joe Miller, Bill Walker, and staying home.

Political observers say that the Alaska Democrats are unlikely to yield the field as they did in 2014, when they ran no one at all for governor, and threw their lot in with Walker.