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Power play, Begich style


The most powerful political figure in Alaska between now and June 1 is … Mark Begich.

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That would make Gov. Bill Walker the most anxious political figure in Alaska, because of … Mark Begich.

Democrats are now worried about Walker’s reelection chances, with good reason. With his “unfavorables” extremely high and his favorables dropping, according to a recent Morning Consult poll, Walker is the least popular governor in the nation. He’s in a public opinion tailspin.

Appointed staff members in the Walker Administration are beginning to look for safe landing spots and have less than nine months to find one. The latest to hit the road is Craig Fleener, who was originally Walker’s running mate, but who was cast aside in 2014, and then given a cushy position that required no deliverables. Fleener is contacting influencers and reconnecting with the “other side.” Last week, the governor’s rural adviser Geoffrey Godfrey clocked out for the last time.

Gov. Bill Walker

Begich and the Democrats will try to push Walker into their Democratic primary once a Supreme Court case is decided this month that determines whether unaffiliated candidates like Walker can run on the Democrats’ primary ballot.

[Read the appellate court decision here that is being challenged by the State]

Organized labor can also be expected to put tremendous pressure on Walker to enter the Democrats’ primary.

If Walker does decide to go that way, Begich could easily beat him in that primary and has until close of business on Friday, June 1 to file as a candidate.

Talk about a nail-biter for Walker.


It means between now and June 1, Mark Begich owns the governor. He can extract anything from him that he wants because the vainglorious Bill Walker loves being governor and will want to hang on, at any price. It remains to be seen if what Begich really wants is the big white house on Calhoun Avenue.


For his September campaign kickoff in Anchorage, Walker boasted dozens of co-hosts from across the state, and he has signed up dozens of deputy treasurers for his campaign as a show of force.

But for this Friday’s Walker-Mallott fundraiser in the populous Mat-Su Valley, the governor could muster only a few loyalists, and some are retreads from the inaugural fundraiser above. Notably missing is Democratic Party Chairwoman Casey Steinau, even though she lives in the Mat-Su. During Walker’s election in 2014, her party was the key to his success, but it appears that either Walker is creating distance between himself and the Democrats, or the Democrats are “keeping their powder dry,” as instructed to by Mark Begich in an August letter to supporters.

Meanwhile, Begich will not forget that in 2014, Walker refused to endorse Begich’s re-election for U.S. Senate. Begich, who had won the seat from Sen. Ted Stevens six years earlier, lost to Dan Sullivan and is now looking for just the right comeback.


Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. If you believe Alaska is already a welfare state replace Walker with begich and Hang On….
    Begich id the absolute last thing this state needs…
    And no I’m not telling you to vote for walker anybody but walker or begich…

  2. Just the other day a public official listed about 25 people now in the Walker administration who worked for Begich at one time or another. It would be a safe bet that at least some of those people and others are working at being in both camps, and some would remain state employees as long as possible even while passing along information and advice to a Begich campaign. If Begich jumps in we should expect to hear that state employees are strangely being uninvited to meetings in the governor’s office, and in one form or another there will be loyalty tests within the Walker-Mallott administration.

    We don’t often think about Mallott in discussions about Begich and Walker but it’s an interesting dynamic. Does Mallott have to stay hitched to his buddy Walker when it appears Walker is likely to go down in flames? Mallott could probably win the Lt. Gov. primary even if Walker decided to avoid any primary. Does Mallott have to end his political career because of a decision Walker gets to make? If Mallott jumped over to Begich would that limit what Begich can say about the lack of Walker-Mallott success in anything for 4 years? So is Begich talking to Mallott look-alikes (but maybe a woman) as a running mate to head off Mallott? What are the people who engineered the post-primary coup that brought us the Walker-Mallott debacle – namely Botelho and Beltrami, as we know where Rogoff is – doing now? The final question I have is for me the most important one: Are Alaskans going to put up with people like Begich, Botelho, Beltrami, Walker, and Mallott once again corrupting democracy and selecting our leaders for yet another 4 years? That is the question for which I have the answer, and the answer in NO!

  3. Vainglorious indeed. Both Walker and Begich are vainglorious. Both men made spurious allegations against their opponents to claw their ways into their respective one terms in office. Both men need to stay out of their public disservice for good and certainly, for the good of Alaska.

    You reap what you sow, Governor. You came in dead last in popularity — just like Alaska recently came in dead last in recent rankings in U.S. News & World Report and McKinsey & Company for economic stability and U.S. News and 24/7 Wall Street for crime and public safety. With the stroke of pen, you made us unsafe with SB91 when you refused to veto it — knowing full well its consequences because many of us lobbied you to veto it precisely because of those consequences. To feign surprise and then trumpet SB54 as your work to repair SB91 is an insult to all of us who lobbied for your veto.

    You refused to pay the oil companies the tax credits the state rightfully owes them. That certainly appears to be you thumbing your nose at MAPA and the voters’ rejection of your efforts to repeal it. The ripple effect of those jobs and companies leaving the state, and more importantly, the emotional toll on the families tied to those jobs who had to leave their communities and their children who had to leave their schools, is incalculable. But, then, you were the candidate who said in October 2014: “I don’t get tangled up in arguing about numbers,” regarding the cost-benefit analysis of expanding Medicaid. “It doesn’t matter,” you said. Nah…why would you do the math first for the greater good?

    You should have gone to Rev. Graham’s funeral, instead of running home to your futile fundraiser. You could have saved your soul by listening to some anointed teaching from the Graham children and taking the time to reflect on eternal things, like the state of your soul and your service to God. You can’t save your job, Governor. Alaskans will happily remove you from it in November. You should focus on your soul.

    • Bring back PARNELL for GOVERNOR 2018. He’s the only one who knows how to fix this mess that Walker created and he’s the only one with the character, humility and servant’s heart to not let the office go to his head. The opposite of these two narcissists.

  4. Agree with Michele. We do not need you or Begich to do more damage to our state. We need a conservative. I knew we were in trouble when you spent time with Obama, I would like to know if you are on Soros payroll.

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