Former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles endorses Begich in race for governor

Mark Begich and Tony Knowles.

Alaska’s last Democratic governor has endorsed Alaska’s last Democratic U.S. senator in this year’s race for governor.

On Wednesday, former Gov. Tony Knowles released an email backing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Begich in the race for governor. The message was sent through the Begich campaign email list.

Begich’s last-minute entry into the race turned the race into a three-way race between incumbent independent Gov. Bill Walker and the winner of the Republican primary, which most expect to be front-runner Mike Dunleavy.

Though Knowles wasn’t a booster for Walker (he contributed to now-Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott’s gubernatorial campaign before the merger and not Walker’s until after the election), but he said he was initially optimistic about the new leadership. He said Walker came up short.

“Four years ago, I was optimistic when Democrats and Independent Alaskans sent a new team to Juneau. Yet today, our state’s budget crisis remains unresolved, our economy is in a slump with the nation’s worst jobless rate, crime is a growing problem in communities statewide, and two-thirds of Alaskans believe the state is headed in the wrong direction,” he wrote. “That’s why I’m supporting Mark Begich – to work with Republicans, Democrats and Independents to put our state on firm financial footing, to expand our economy while protecting our clean air and water, keep our communities safe, and to improve our schools which are the key to Alaska’s bright future.”

Knowles served from 1994 to 2002, and recently made headlines after he lead a mass resignation from the National Park System Advisory Board in protest over the policies and administration of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and President Trump.

The message from Knowles runs down Begich’s career as mayor of Anchorage and in the U.S. Senate. It also points out that Begich is the only pro-choice candidate in the race, which could become a key issue with an opening on the U.S. Supreme Court that’ll be filled by Trump.

Knowles also makes the pitch that Begich has a path to victory in what’s proving to be a difficult three-way race. Much of the attention has focused on just how Begich and Walker, who won in 2014 with an alliance with Democrats, will split the vote.

“When Mark first announced his run for Governor, many Alaskans were worried about the dynamics of a three-way general election, but I know firsthand that three-way races have been good to Democrats in Alaska,” Knowles wrote. “After all, that is how I won my first term as Governor and Mark won his first-term as Mayor.”

The full letter:

Dear Fellow Alaskan,

I write to ask for your help putting our state back on the right track by electing Mark Begich as Alaska’s next governor.

In the nearly 40 years I’ve known Mark, I’ve watched him pull together Alaskans of differing political views for a common purpose – moving our largest city and our state forward. Always upbeat, Mark has the optimism, vision and experience to get things done. He is exactly what Alaska needs right now.

Four years ago, I was optimistic when Democrats and Independent Alaskans sent a new team to Juneau. Yet today, our state’s budget crisis remains unresolved, our economy is in a slump with the nation’s worst jobless rate, crime is a growing problem in communities statewide, and two-thirds of Alaskans believe the state is headed in the wrong direction.

That’s why I’m supporting Mark Begich – to work with Republicans, Democrats and Independents to put our state on firm financial footing, to expand our economy while protecting our clean air and water, keep our communities safe, and to improve our schools which are the key to Alaska’s bright future.

Mark is a proven problem-solver. After being elected one of Anchorage’s youngest-ever assemblymen at age 26, Mark was selected to chair the Assembly because of his ability to work across political boundaries. As Anchorage’s Mayor, he turned our city around after inheriting one of its worst financial crises by cutting the budget, investing in roads and new infrastructure, and reorganizing for greater efficiency. He helped grow Anchorage’s economy every year, created 9,000 new jobs, and hired 87 new police officers to crack down on crime. Mark helped lead Anchorage into the 21st century.

As Alaska’s U.S. Senator, Mark forced the Obama administration to open new areas to responsible oil development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and in the Arctic offshore. He protected vital federal programs for Alaska, from Bypass Mail to Essential Air Service, and made sure Alaska’s active duty and veterans had the pay, equipment and benefits they needed and deserved, and fought for equal pay for equal work. More than any other senator, he worked across party lines to get things done.

When Mark first announced his run for Governor, many Alaskans were worried about the dynamics of a three-way general election, but I know firsthand that three-way races have been good to Democrats in Alaska. After all, that is how I won my first term as Governor and Mark won his first-term as Mayor.

As he has demonstrated in other tough elections, Mark has what it takes and I’m convinced he will win. When Democrats and non-partisan Alaskans come home to a true independent Democrat, we can create the changes we need with a leader who gets things done.

As the only pro-choice candidate in the race with a record of fighting for equal pay for equal work, Mark Begich has earned the support of Alaska women.

With a proven track record on investing in education and fighting crime, Alaska’s parents and families trust Mark Begich.

With a career founded on supporting collective bargaining, raising the minimum wage, and promoting common sense economic policies, Alaska’s working families are proud to stand with Mark Begich.

As a veteran of close elections myself, I know Mark and all of us who believe in him will need to work extra hard between now and November. Susan and I have already contributed to his campaign and we’re asking you to do the same today. In addition, we need to tell our friends and neighbors that not only can Mark win, but we need him to win. Let’s help Mark move Alaska forward – our children are counting on us.

Sincerely,

Tony Knowles

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2 Comments on "Former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles endorses Begich in race for governor"

  1. David Otness | June 28, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Reply

    “after he lead”…?
    Tsk, tsk, tsk…

  2. Randy Hodges | July 7, 2018 at 9:50 am | Reply

    Since Knowles intentionally neglects to mention it, I will…What did Begich do to lower healthcare costs and lower health insurance premiums for Alaskans? If elected governor, what will he promise to do to significantly lower the cost of healthcare, insurance premiums, and pharmaceuticals for the folks that don’t get free healthcare from the state and federal government?

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