A sign that Begich isn’t running for governor



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.

Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami, center, is joined by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, at a labor protest against the Anchorage Hilton and Sheraton Hotels in this 2012 file photo.

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):


  1. Gotta love the Lesil McGuire on that list. They must be really desperate to run with that kind of support.

  2. Walker has protected the state employee unions by spending down non-recurring revenues and avoiding operating budget reductions no matter the cost. But he has been a disaster for trade unions and for all private sector employees. Obviously some so-called labor leaders don’t care, and I suppose that so long as union dues are paid it works.

  3. Since both Walker and Begich support unions, if both run, union support would be divided.

    I see two probabe plots:
    PLOT 1. Union support goes to Walker continuing as an Independent (though he’s really a D). Begich supports Walker in return for Walker’s support when Walker is done. Can one D trust another. Yes, if money is favorable.
    PLOT 2. Unions support both Walker the I and Begich the D – running against one another in the primary, and view this as having two tickets to the Primary dance – may the best dancer going into the General be the only one with union support.

    IF both ran in the General in their current party affiliations, Walker and Begich would split the D vote. I don’t see them doing that.

    Ds support unions to get campaign union support. Unions support Ds to get Legislative support for their survival. That way, unions muscle money from employees initiation fees and dues (giving next to nothing in return) while unions support those who keep them viable “legally”. Not all union members are leftist or Ds or idiots. Many don’t like the closed shop mandate. Conservative members of unions never liked union money supporting Ds. It used to be illegal in the federal sector but it was done sneakily, through individuals in conspiracy. Have fun proving that! If one caves and spills the beans – move over Jimmy Hoffa. Now it’s legal.

    What would happen if all those members not enjoying unions running their lives and jobs simply bypassed (defied) union rules and quit the union? Unions would never fire so many. That happened in the federal sector in Alaska. I think unions could not possibly support a closed shop system in this State if members mutinied.

    We need freedom. That means a system where individuals can make their own choices, not have unions dictated choices for them. Until employees have that freedom, they are not free.

    Explained properly, since Walker has trounced Alaskans, I think voters would pass a Right To Work measure. Actually, I believe the Legislature should have done that long ago. So, after the 2018 election, when Republicans regain the majority in the House and Senate and Governor’s offices, JUST DO IT! Making Right To Work a campaign promise might prove a good idea.

    If we get Right To Work, then unions would not control the contract job prices charged to governments and we’d have a real cut to spending.

  4. Every person on that fundraiser list supports the theft of your dividend to support a bloated state government just remember that always !!

  5. Begich: “Keep your powder dry”? Judging by that list of Walker sponsors the powder has already spilled out of the horn.
    Its been pretty obvious that Walker is representing the Deep State Alaska gang. Of course if we knew that in 2014 he would not have been elected.
    I sure hope the R’s get their act together behind a credible candidate. We have to defeat Deep State Alaska like Trump is defeating the Deep State FBI!

  6. What is taking away the “Begich focus” is the possibility of another match up with Sullivan. The national Democrats may be willing to turn a blind eye on the governor’s race for the “bigger prize.” They want to neuter Trump and their best bet in in the Senate. Keeping your best horse in the barn just makes sense.

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