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Alex DeMarban

A gubernatorial debate at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention Friday highlighted differences between the two leading candidates on Medicaid, the Pebble prospect and, perhaps most importantly, their choices for lieutenant governor.

Candidates were asked how they felt about a recent federal court decision that found the state had violated the Voting Rights Act and called for expanded language assistance for some Alaska Native voters who speak limited English...

Alex DeMarban

U.S. Rep. Don Young told the Alaska Federation of Natives on Friday that he is sorry for the pain his remarks about suicide may have caused people.

“Again, I am profoundly sorry for those that took offense at what I tried to say because they did not and will not take time to understand we have to stop this tragic from occurring again. And I can't do it by myself, but I have given it the best shot and I'll continue to do that. I'll continue to do that so I won't have to have that suffering...

Dermot Cole,Alex DeMarban

Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she has asked Rep. Don Young to apologize to Alaskans for hurtful comments he made to high school students struggling with suicide.

“Earlier today, I talked to Don Young and encouraged him to rethink the past few days and apologize to Alaskans so we can all be rowing in the same direction against suicide,” Murkowski said in a Facebook post Thursday ...

Alex DeMarban

Former Gov. Sarah Palin has endorsed gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker.

The endorsement came at a reception hosted by Palin Tuesday night in which she told about 100 guests that she supports Walker and his running mate, Byron Mallott, because she trusts them to responsibly develop Alaska’s resources for the maximum benefit of the state’s residents, said a release from the Walker-Mallott campaign.

"Last night my family, along with Byron and Toni Mallott, and our campaign staff attended a reception hosted by Todd and Sarah Palin at their lakeside property in Wasilla,” said Walker in a press release sent Wednesday...

Alex DeMarban

The largest annual gathering of Alaska Natives is a high-stakes political scene as much as a cultural event, with candidates vying for attention before thousands of delegates from distant villages -- and a coveted endorsement from a pivotal part of the electorate.

This year, the political tussling surfaced even before Thursday’s start of the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage, with the unexpected nixing of a lieutenant governor’s forum drawing an attack from Democrats who alleged politics was involved.

But the AFN didn't notify one of the participants, leading to last-minute shifts in the packed convention schedule...

Alex DeMarban

The two leading gubernatorial candidates tangled over energy and the economy at a crowded debate in Anchorage on Monday, with the proposed mega-LNG project often taking center stage.

Republican Gov. Sean Parnell tried to depict independent candidate Bill Walker as a two-faced challenger promising big cuts or more spending, depending on the audience. Walker, running as an independent, blasted Parnell for creating record deficits and few jobs...

Alex DeMarban

With Alaska facing a third straight year of massive deficits, and plunging oil prices threatening to make matters worse, the leading gubernatorial candidates are battling over the budget.

To date, Gov. Sean Parnell has centered much of his attention on what he says was a “promise” by Bill Walker to cut the budget 16 percent in one year without saying where.

Walker in fact said in a Sept. 5 radio interview that the budget needs to be cut about 16 percent. He said he would balance the budget after getting input from agency heads, and that doing it in one year keeps the problem from getting bigger...

Alex DeMarban

A Slate article about big business influencing elections through employee persuasion turns an eye on Alaska and the role industry played in keeping Senate Bill 21 in place in August.

The story cites anonymous oil field workers who said they were fearful of losing jobs or work, including a contractor who tells of a required “safety standdown” meeting by ConocoPhillips at a North Slope site. Fearing an announcement about a workplace accident, the workers instead got a political message from a Conoco manager about the virtues of Senate Bill 21...

Alex DeMarban

Praising Gov. Sean Parnell for playing an instrumental role in reviving tourism in Alaska, a group of businesses involved in the visitor industry has established a new fundraising organization to advocate on his behalf in the closing weeks of his race against challenger Bill Walker.

“For Tourism Jobs -- Vote Parnell” filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Wednesday, said John Binkley, a co-chair of the group and chair of his family’s company, Riverboat Discovery tours in Fairbanks.

“It will be modest, educational, and absolutely positive,” Binkley said of the group's outreach. “I think people are sick and tired of all the negative ads. We just want to talk about the positive things he’s done for the 46,000 Alaskans employed in the tourism industry.”...

Alex DeMarban

In the lone lieutenant governor’s debate on Monday, independent candidate Byron Mallott said the oil-tax rewrite that was the signature legislation of Gov. Sean Parnell -- his ticket’s gubernatorial opponent -- is currently working for Alaska.

Meanwhile, Parnell’s Republican running mate, Dan Sullivan, said the state budget is clearly on an unsustainable path.

Mallott’s answer on the tax rewrite known as Senate Bill 21 came in response to a question from Sullivan.

Sullivan had said that with oil prices falling, the new tax is bringing in more money than the former system would have. That old system, Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share, helped the state stash away billions in savings because it heavily taxed oil companies -- when oil prices were high...

Alex DeMarban