Democrat Les Gara was the attack dog. Politically homeless Bill Walker wanted a do-over as governor and didn’t want anyone to remember his first go-round. And Charlie Pierce was like the church elder in the room.
But ultimately it was Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s night at the fights. He took a steady stream of punches from the Left — Gara and Walker — and prevailed by making no mistakes and not getting caught flatfooted during KTUU’s and KTOO’s Debate for the State. Dunleavy gave opposition researchers nothing to work with to attack him in ads.
The biggest news of the night came when Gov. Mike Dunleavy asked former Gov. Bill Walker if there was anything he regretted about his deals with China on the Alaska gas line.
Walker began flapping his arms animatedly, and said Donald Trump supported his gas line deal.
Then Dunleavy asks him if he would do it over again.
“No, of course not,” Walker said, visibly anxious. The gas line was Walker’s signature issue during his 2010 and 2014 run for governor, and now he was admitting his strategy would have been a bad one.
During the debate, the positions of Walker and Gara were nearly indistinguishable. They both favor abortion and more education funding without any accountability from schools. They were two leftist former elected officials who hate the governor and want to take his job.
Dunleavy took the punches, but pointed out that they are both litigators, and he mentioned that they only wanted to attack him, they didn’t want to stand on their own records, and he couldn’t blame them for not wanting to do so.
Walker, who unsuccessfully pushed over nine income taxes during his time as governor, said he hoped he would not have to resort to taxation on Alaskans. Gara said he didn’t see how Alaska could pay for all the things he wants without taxes, and he mentioned punishing oil companies.
Pierce reminded viewers that during the pandemic, he refused to shut down the Kenai Peninsula, keeping businesses open to the extent that he had the power to do so. He pointed to his strong private sector business career and said he will always cut government before taxing people.
In closing statements, Gov. Mike Dunleavy asked voters to mark him first, and Charlie Pierce second. Pierce asked voters to mark him first and Dunleavy second. Neither Walker nor Gara made any such statement about ranking each other, although in past debates Walker has said that his voters should rank Gara second.
After the debate, Walker snubbed Dunleavy by refusing to shake his hand.