Planned Parenthood Votes endorses Mark Begich for Alaska governor

Former U.S. Mark Begich will be filing for Alaska governor on Friday.

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii has endorsed Democratic candidate Mark Begich in the race for Alaska’s governor, the organization announced today.

The announcement from the independent political advocacy group praised Begich’s track record as a firm supporter of access to health care and bashed both Gov. Bill Walker and Mike Dunleavy for their positions on abortion access and Planned Parenthood.

“Begich is a champion for reproductive health and rights, and Planned Parenthood Votes is proud to support his run for Governor of Alaska,” said Jessica Cler, the Alaska public affairs manager for PPVNH, in a prepared statement. “As we lead the charge against attacks on health care access and reproductive rights, we know Begich will stand strong in his leadership on important issues for women and families.”

Begich has already hit on the issue of abortion access to separate himself from Walker as the two duke it out for the moderate and progressive vote. The issue came up around the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month, when Begich pointed out that he was the only pro-choice candidate in the race and vowed to fight any roll back of rights allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a statement published to social media earlier this week, Begich responded to the endorsement.

“Governors will become the last line of defense to protect women from the extremist attacks we continue to see from Washington D.C,” he wrote. “As Governor, I will fight every day – as I always have – to uphold a woman’s fundamental right to make her own health care decisions.”

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Dunleavy praised the pick, while Walker–a former Republican who won his 2014 election as an independent–was slow to respond before eventually re-confirming his pro-life stance while committing to maintaining access to health care.

The PPVNH announcement also comes complete with plenty of ammunition against Walker and Dunleavy like Dunleavy’s comments comparing Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan during a fight over whether or not Planned Parenthood would be permitted to help with school sex education courses and the Walker administration’s defense of the medically necessary abortion law, a bill that got the vote of Dunleavy as a state senator.

PPVNH also took aim at Walker for his involvement when in 2015 then-Attorney General Craig Richards filed a brief in Obergefell v. Hodges that put Alaska in support of same-sex marriage bans that were eventually ruled unconstitutional. Walker issued a statement at the time that said if the decision had been up to him alone that he wouldn’t have filed it, but it was an explanation that fell flat for many in the LGBT community.

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