Commerce Commissioner Mike Navarre has taken leave into order to campaign for Gov. Bill Walker.
Navarre sent a memo to employees this week saying he’ll be off duty through the Nov. 6 election: “I intend to focus a significant amount of my personal time and energy in the coming weeks on the upcoming election. As such, I have decided to take a leave of absence until early November so I can focus on advocating for the candidates and issues that are of great concern to me.”
Of concern to Navarre is shoring up support for Gov. Bill Walker, as he struggles in third place in a three-way race. Navarre, who has only been Commerce commissioner for 11 months, is a longtime advocate of a state income tax, one of Walker’s key initiatives of his fiscal plan.
Navarre is the former Borough Mayor of Kenai, and is doing something that others in the Administration have not done: separate himself from his official duties while he campaigns. That shows character. But whom can he influence? Navarre may be known in Kenai, but his name recognition is weak elsewhere in the state. And he lacks stature without his former chief of staff Larry Persily by his side.
Filling in for Navarre at Commerce is Deputy Commissioner Fred Parady.