REPLACING MIKE DUNLEAVY PROVES TRICKY
Less than 24 hours after he was appointed, the second man chosen by Gov. Bill Walker to fill Senate Seat E has withdrawn, saying he needs to take care of personal matters.
The first man chosen, Randall Kowalke, was rejected by Senate Republicans, who asked the governor to work more closely with the district in finding a replacement for former Sen. Mike Dunleavy, who is now a candidate for governor.
In a long letter to Walker, Braund — a former Marine and retired safety officer — said that none of the media attacks regarding him had anything to do with his decision, and that it was simply personal choices involving the health needs of a loved one.
His letter to Walker indicates why District E people chose him in the first place:
“My decision has nothing to do with the media trying to smear me with anything they think is dirt in their quiver; even a joke can be turned into dirt by the low reporters.
“My decision is my own. I’m a Marine; this stuff rolls off my back like the dew. I’ve had professional gangsters try; they lost. So, nothing leftists try sways my decisions.
“My decision has little to do with the fact that I am somewhat unfamiliar with the processes in Juneau or any lack of knowledge of any issues at stake; I know enough. I would be on a big learning curve and am highly qualified to learn.
“To me, the most important thing anybody elected can do is whatever makes life better and easier for the People of Alaska. These days, that means your elected doing what it takes to keep your money in your own pockets, not funding government expansion or special interests. Politicians forget whose money it is.
“This State belongs to Alaskans, not government. The elected are supposed to be maintaining essential infrastructure, not luxury. That is the foundation of my decisions – the Constitutional job description.”
CHIEF OF STAFF GOES BALLISTIC
At the same time Braund was withdrawing his nomination, Gov. Walker’s Chief of Staff Scott Kendall, fired off an angry statement defending the nomination:
To be clear, the Governor absolutely does not endorse any of the three nominees sent to him by the Republican Party, including Thomas Braund. The Senate Republicans rejected the Governor’s nominee—Randall Kowalke—and then publicly demanded that he appoint one of the three nominees endorsed by Party officials. Essentially, they announced they would deprive the people in Senate District E of representation unless this demand was met. The Governor does believe that District E is entitled to representation. Accordingly, all questions regarding Mr. Braund’s fitness and qualifications for office should be directed to the Republican Party— who did vet Mr. Braund and, by vote, endorsed his beliefs as acceptable to them—as well as to the Senate Republicans who rejected Mr. Kowalke and specifically requested such a Party-approved nominee. The Alaska Republican Party and the Senate Republicans now have the nominee they demanded.” – Scott Kendall, Chief of Staff
VICKI WALLNER’S NAME FORWARDED
Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock said he was forwarding the next name on the list of applicants to the governor for his consideration: Vicki Chaffin Wallner of Palmer. Wallner had come in fourth during the voting process in the district meeting in mid-January.
Wallner is the founder of a popular crime-fighting Facebook group in the Mat-Su Valley, “Stop Valley Thieves.” She is a businesswoman and small farm owner.