WALKER CRACKS OPEN UNION SUPPORT
One of the favorite dinner party conversations among politicos this season is whether or not former Sen. Mark Begich is going to make a run for governor of Alaska.
On Aug. 25, Begich was certainly still in the hunt. In a letter to his supporters he wrote: “I wanted to let you know that in response to many urging me to run, I am considering it, but Deborah and I have not made a decision yet. I hope to make a decision and share that with you in the next few months. In the meantime, I ask that you keep your powder dry.
“As I think about this decision, I’d love to hear from you. Should I or shouldn’t I run for Governor? Do you think Alaska is on the right path? What are your biggest hopes and concerns for our future?”
We may never know what answer Begich received, but a fundraiser for Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott just a few weeks later was flush with people one would expect to be at a Begich fundraiser — Jane Anvik and Vic Fisher, Barbara and Hal Gazaway, Bruce Botelho, Diane Kaplan. You know, the usual suspects.
Some of those keeping their powder dry in September are now all in on a fundraiser the Walker-Mallott ticket that the campaign will hold on Dec. 18 at the home of former Gov. Bill Sheffield.
They are the union representatives. They were nowhere to be seen during the governor’s first few fundraisers. But they are part of the Walker party now.
Vince Beltrami is on board with Gov. Walker once again. He’s head of AFL-CIO in Alaska and was instrumental in Walker’s first win, cobbling together the slate of Walker and Mallott.
Tom Wescott, head of the firefighters’ union, has now thrown his support to Walker.
Joey Merrick, business manager for Laborers’ Local 341, has joined the co-host list.
Alaska Democrats, tired of losing, gave up having a gubernatorial candidate in 2014, and it worked out well for them. They have control the Governor’s Office, and now the House of Representatives, which they took control of by running “independents.” It worked beyond their wildest dreams.
But would Democrats really go for two election cycles without having someone from their party run for governor, especially when Begich appears eager to jump in? Walker seems to have convinced the Democrats to stick with him for another cycle.
Walker’s fundraiser next week is co-hosted by mostly the same people who hosted his September fundraiser. Overall, the list boasts fewer names.
A few new co-hosts, like former Rep. Jim Colver, appear, but one name is conspicuously absent from the invitation: Rep. Dean Westlake, who was supported by Walker and his key surrogate lawyer Robin Brena, but who is now under attack by his own party for sexual harassment. Westlake was a co-host in September, but not this time.
Brena’s name is not on the list, although he’s surely working on a parallel effort to elect Walker-Mallott through an independent expenditure group.
Has Begich decided not to run? Has Walker promised Democrats he will run in their primary? Both of those seem more likely this week, with the unions coming over.
Here’s the invitation for the Dec. 18 fundraiser, and the co-hosts who are no longer keeping their powder dry for Begich. (Compare it to the September list here):