Former Gov. Bill Walker’s long-rumored run to retake the governor’s office became a reality today when he and former Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas filed their letters of intent to run for office in 2022.
Walker and Drygas announced their plan to run on a joint ticket for governor and lieutenant governor, and their filings allow them to begin fundraising for the campaign. Walker lost his bid for re-election against Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy in a three-way race that saw his running mate drop out before he ultimately suspended his campaign.
Walker has been publicly considering another run for governor for nearly a year, telling Fairbanks-based KTVF that “I’ve not been a very good bystander when there’s work that needs to be done.” His announcement doesn’t take a direct shot at Dunleavy’s time in office, but instead focuses on the instability and uncertainty over the last three years.
“The last few years have driven divisiveness and caused economic alarm and instability at a time when our state’s future is at stake,” he said. “I will work with the legislature to bring an end to this fiscal uncertainty that continues to threaten our future. Time is of the essence. We must rebuild hope, trust, and Alaska. Our opportunities are endless when we work together.”
“Alaskans need leadership,” Drygas said in a prepared statement. “They want leaders who will reach across the partisan divide and are willing to work hard to solve our biggest challenges. Alaska is a vast and majestic state with immense resources and unlimited potential, but those opportunities are being squandered. We can’t let national politics rise above our state’s interests. Alaskans deserve better.”
The 2022 election will be unlike no other in Alaska’s history. Under the election reforms approved by voters last year, the governor’s race will be conducted through an open primary where the top four tickets advance to a general election that will be decided with ranked choice voting. Previously, candidates running under a party label had their running mates decided by a separate primary but now all gubernatorial candidates will pick their running mate.
“I’m pleased that Heidi is on our ticket,” Walker said in the prepared statement. “Given Heidi’s experience in job creation and workforce development and our combined passion for responsible resource development in Alaska, she is the right person at the right time.”
In an interview last week, Gov. Dunleavy seemed noncommittal about keeping Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer on his ticket for 2022 and told Alaska Public Media that they’re still running together “As of now, yes.”