WALKER SAYS IN RESPONSE: IT’S A ‘RACE TO 40 PERCENT’
Mark Begich ended the suspense today, saying he is sticking with his race for governor. He made the announcement at his campaign headquarters in a strip mall at the corner of Benson Blvd. and Minnesota Blvd. Before he began speaking, the songs “Born to Run,” and Eye of the Tiger” were broadcast from the loudspeaker.
The room itself, which is diminutive to begin with for a campaign, was crammed with supporters who included many of the usual Democratic operatives and political figures: Assembly members Eric Croft, Chris Constant, senatorial candidate Elvi Gray-Jackson, Sen. Tom Begich and Bill Wielechowski, Rep. Chris Tuck, and even former Rep. Willie Hensley and former U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lindbeck. Bloggers Jeanne Devon (Mudflats) and Jeff Landfield (Landmine) joined the crew of media that included public broadcasting, KTUU, Anchorage Daily News and the Frontiersman/Anchorage Press.
Begich, in his typically jovial mood, was flanked by two dozen supporters holding signs that indicated why they were supporting their Democrat nominee: Crime, the PFD, abortion rights, and LGBT rights. They were pumped and resolute about their candidate.
Begich’s remarks were streamed on Facebook:
“For those who are wondering, I’m staying in this are for governor,” Begich said. “Let me make it very clear to the reporters and others. If you want to talk about the process talk to someone else. We are done with that. I’m in the race to win. It’s a three-way race, so get used to it. We are focusing on what this race is about: The people of Alaska. Alaskans will need to make their choice of who they will support, and vote accordingly. You cannot cut a deal on your values just to make sure one person or another becomes governor.”
That was the bad news for the candidacy of Gov. Bill Walker, who has the third spot in a race featuring someone who is a titan on the Democrat Party side, and another who is a force of nature for the Republicans — Mike Dunleavy.
For weeks, Walker has tried to muscle Begich out of the race, and as late as yesterday the two had met to discuss if there was a way for one of them to drop.
“This just goes to show you Walker still can’t make a deal come together,” said one supporter attending the rally at the Begich headquarters. “Maybe he can unilaterally keep Mark’s name off the ballot.”
But Walker took the announcement in stride, and within minutes had released this prepared statement on Facebook:
“Regardless of how many candidates are in the race, this election will come down to the decisions made on the Permanent Fund and the Fiscal Plan. Those decisions have been tough, but they have restored our credit rating, ended our unilateral dependence on oil, and protected the Permanent Fund for the future. A three-way race is a race to forty percent. Our challenge in the next two months is to make sure that at least forty percent of the electorate recognize that those decisions have put Alaska in control of our own future. Byron and I are ready to meet that challenge!”
The campaign for Mike Dunleavy issued a statement of its own:
“After months of closed door meetings with power brokers and special interests, the two candidates for big government – Bill Walker and Mark Begich – failed to pull off another scheme to disenfranchise Alaskan voters. Now the choice could not be more clear: Alaskans can vote either for the failed experiment of Walker/Mallott, career politician Mark Begich, or the bold new leadership of Mike Dunleavy, who has pledged to restore the PFD, take real steps to fight crime, and grow the economy. The Mike Dunleavy campaign is focused on addressing issues that matter most to Alaskans: record unemployment, out-of-control crime, a weak economy, and unsustainable government spending. Mike Dunleavy’s optimistic vision for Alaska has been, and will continue to be, the cornerstone of the campaign to send Mike to the governor’s office.”
Dunleavy today appeared on public broadcasting’s “Talk of Alaska” show and then was heading to Juneau to attend a town hall meeting focused on crime, to be held at the Mendenhall Public Library Wednesday at 5 pm, and a Juneau Chamber of Commerce forum on Thursday, where all three candidates are likely to appear.