When independent Gov. Bill Walker suspended his re-election campaign and endorsed Mark Begich on Oct. 19, he mentioned a handful of key issues that he felt would best be continued by the Democrat: Medicaid expansion, the gasline project and improving the state’s relationship with Alaska Natives.
It turns out that his agreements with Begich don’t go very far beyond that.
On Monday, Walker released a statement distancing himself from an unspecified ad put out by an independent expenditure group that he said overstated his support for Begich.
“I stated that despite my many differences with Mark Begich, his stance on specific issues important to me-the Alaska LNG Project, maintaining Medicaid expansion, building a sustainable fiscal plan, and bridging the historical divide with our Alaska Native friends and neighbors- more closely aligns with my vision for Alaska than does the campaign rhetoric of Mike Dunleavy,” Walker said. “Independent expenditure groups are running advertisements that go far beyond the scope of these areas of alignment into areas where I am not necessarily aligned with Mr. Begich.”
Walker also requests that the ads be either edited or removed, and directs questions back to his speech for “where I stand on the issues of this election.”
The statement doesn’t specify the ad or the claims that he found problematic, but a review of independent expenditure reports and filings with the Federal Communications Commission makes it likely that it’s a radio ad by a group called Begich for Alaska (like our qualms with the Dunleavy for Alaska independent expenditure group, we also don’t like this confusing name).
It’s a one-minute ad that features a cut down version of Walker’s speech from the Alaska Federation of Natives followed by a narrator touting Begich. The ads were running as of Monday afternoon, when we snagged this recording of it.
Here’s the transcript.
Narrator: Here’s big news. Here’s Gov. Bill Walker endorsing Mark Begich for governor.
Walker: Every decision I have made as your governor is what I believe is best for Alaska. I am suspending my campaign for the re-election as governor. Begich has the better odds. Mark Begich, his stance on important issues are more closely aligned with my priorities for Alaska.
Narrator: Mark Begich, the one choice we have for governor to fight for our values and stop Mike Dunleavy. Mark Begich, the one candidate with the plan to fight crime, improve our children’s education and keep Alaska competitive. Mark Begich will protect our permanent fund dividend. Mike Dunleavy voted five times to not pay your full dividend. Mark Begich, the only choice who fights for us.
Pretty tame, right? The cuts in the audio make it clear it’s cut down from something longer. For comparison’s sake, we went back to the speech (6:17 of this video) to find the full transcript of his speech. We’ve highlighted the parts that made it into the ad.
It’s not the first time that a politician has taken issue with how their words were used by an independent expenditure group in a way they didn’t approve. On Monday, Anchorage Sen. Bill Wielechowski sent a scathing cease-and-desist letter against the independent expenditure group Dunleavy for Alaska for making it appear that he supported Dunleavy.