Alaska Gov. Walker suspends campaign, endorses Begich: ‘Alaska before me’

Gov. Bill Walker delivers a heartfelt apology for Alaska's historical mistreatment of Alaska Natives during the AFN annual convention in Anchorage on Oct. 18, 2018. (Photo by Matt Buxton/TMS)

Independent Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has suspended his campaign for re-election and endorsed Democratic candidate Mark Begich.

Walker made the comments today at the annual convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives shortly before the group’s forum for gubernatorial candidates. Lt. Gov. Valerie Davidson, who had been appointed earlier this week after the shocking resignation of Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, stood at his side during the speech.

With tears in his voice, Walker made the announcement.

“Effective today, I am suspending my campaign for the re-election for governor,” he said to gasps. “With more time I believe Lt. Gov. Davidson and I could deliver a message and a campaign that could earn a victory in this election, but there are only 18 days remaining before election day. … In the time remaining, it has become clear that we cannot win in a three-way race.”

He his decision to drop out and endorse Begich was the best way to avoid the election of Republican Mike Dunleavy, whose right-wing politics Walker said risks the progress made under his administration like Medicaid expansion and significant improvement of relations between the state and Alaska Natives.

“At this point, Begich has a better chance,” he conceded.

“There are simply no words to express my deepest gratitude to the incomparable team of Alaskans who’ve worked in my administration,” he said, also thanking his campaign staff. “I also want to say thank you to my family and Donna, my first lady for life.”

Walker has faced incredible pressure this week to withdraw as many, us included, believed Mallott’s resignation would doom the campaign that was already facing tough chances come Nov. 6. Throughout the week, Walker said he would do what’s best for the state and that’s how he finished his remarks.

“Ultimately it’s not how long my team and I serve, it’s how well we serve the people and the state we love while we have the opportunity and honor to serve. We have served with integrity, courage, devotion and compassion. Never asking ourselves whether a decision was politically correct, but always, always, asking if it is right for Alaska,” he said. “It is the honor of my life to have served this great state. … Alaska before me.”

After he finished his speech, singers from the NANA region took the stage to sing in his honor and afterward many delegates to AFN from around Alaska spoke to thank Walker for his service.

The AFN membership also voted on the spot to accept Walker’s apology from the day before, where the governor apologized for the generational trauma the state has done to Alaska Natives.

When it finally came time for the gubernatorial forum, Republican Mike Dunleavy and Democrat Mark Begich took the stage as a third chair meant for Walker was rolled aside.

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3 Comments on "Alaska Gov. Walker suspends campaign, endorses Begich: ‘Alaska before me’"

  1. Thank you, Governor Walker, for this act of true leadership.

  2. Wow…my head hurts. Just when you think the two lefties would dilute the vote in favor of the
    GOP,they pull a Halcro at the last minute.Problem is the crossover will swim to the political left bank.
    I hope this doesn’t end up in Pee Wee’s favor. How many asterisks can one man have ?? The spin is so bad the earth is wobbling…
    Alaska politics at its finest….or is
    side money buying some folks off…hmmmm ?

  3. Kimberly Slone | October 22, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Reply

    Thank you, Governor Walker. In a recent debate, Dunleavy suggested the use of dirty coal in remote communities. We are at ground zero for climate change. Dunleavy needs to pull his head out of the sand. Alaskans aren’t stupid! We know climate change is happening. We’re living it! No snow in Fairbanks. Poor salmon runs. Rain and humidity. Not to mention Fairbanks has the worst air quality in the country. I’m voting for Mark Begich. Begich acknowledges the reality of climate change and he will get the PFD constitutionally protected.

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