Former Gov. Bill Walker was spotted in Ketchikan today with his former chief of staff Scott Kendall, giving additional fuel to the rumor that Walker is considering a run for governor.
Walker and Kendall were attending the breast cancer fundraiser at the Waterfall Resort on Prince of Wales Island, which is an annual fishing event sponsored by the Murkowski family. Kendall has been said to be working to convince Walker, age 70, to make another run of it, after Walker’s spectacular political crash in 2018. Kendall is also considered the architect of Ballot Measure 2, which created jungle primaries and ranked-choice general elections in Alaska, to ease the way for a Murkowski victory in 2022; he is also the force behind the Recall Dunleavy group.
As speculation increases about Walker, word of possible running mates has brought out the names of former Commissioner of Labor Heidi Drygas, a Big Labor Democrat; and current Eagle River Rep. Kelly Merrick, a Big Labor Republican. Merrick, if she drops out of the House race in 2022 to run for lieutenant governor, would open up a slot for Anchorage Assemblywoman Jamie Allard to run for House, as some have pushed her to do.
In Ketchikan, political discussion at local watering holes swirled around a new rumor that former U.S. Senate candidate Al Gross is also considering a run — but not for Senate against Lisa Murkowski. He may be planning to run for governor, instead, according to those who have spoken with him.
Also spotted in Ketchikan and at the Waterfall Resort were Portland political strategist Jim Lottsfeldt, who has worked on Sen. Murkowski’s campaigns; Mike Pawlowski, Murkowski’s former chief of staff and now part of a consulting firm in Alaska; former House Speaker Terry Gardiner; former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell; and Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s Chief of Staff Randy Ruaro, with his wife Dana. Ketchikan is the Ruaros’ hometown.
Many business leaders were also there, including the executives from Wells Fargo, Alyeska Pipeline Company, Edison Chouest, and Providence Hospital.
Missing was Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is having to remain in Washington, D.C. for a potential vote on the big infrastructure bill that she negotiated.
Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and her campaign manager Gina Ritacco were seen arriving in Ketchikan for the annual Blueberry Festival. They had visited Haines, Hoonah, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, and Wrangell on their way to the First City.
Earlier this week, Walker and his wife Donna attended a fundraiser for Congressman Don Young in Anchorage, where Walker shook many hands.