OPINION: Walker has the leadership Alaska needs

Bill Walker

As members of the bipartisan House majority, we understand what it takes to make progress for Alaska. For this and many reasons, we endorse and eagerly support the Walker-Drygas ticket as the first ranked choice for governor and lieutenant governor on the ballot this fall.

We write to address recent comments about the Walker-Drygas ticket in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade.

Each of us is pro-choice and a Democrat. We firmly believe a woman and her health care provider are in the best position to make decisions about pregnancy — not the government. But as it stands now, nationwide, women no longer have control over their bodies regarding this most sensitive and personal of all decisions.

Our support for a woman’s right to choose her own reproductive and health-care options is unbending, and we are dedicated to preserving our state constitution’s privacy clause.

We have confidence that the Walker-Drygas ticket will not interfere with these rights. We say this because they have earned our trust and we won’t let that trust be broken. In his first term, Gov. Walker made no efforts of any consequence to undo these rights. Further, Gov. Walker understandably changed his attorney general mid-term, when it was clear that his first appointee was out of step with his administration and the people of Alaska. He appointed a pro-choice leader in Jahna Lindemuth as the successor AG.

People’s views can and often should evolve over time. Governor Walker has proven he is willing to learn and refine his position based on new information, an admirable leadership quality sorely needed. It is noteworthy, for example, that Governor Walker nominated a transgender individual to serve on the Human Rights Commission.

While we don’t agree with it, we respect Mr. Walker’s right to his personal position on abortion. Further, we don’t expect perfect unanimity on all issues from the Walker-Drygas ticket. We don’t see every issue the same, and why would we? It’s the totality and decency of the person that is our focus. On that scorecard, Governor Walker excels.

One might ask: Why would we not support Les Gara over the Walker-Drygas ticket? After all, Gara is a fine and principled person who served our state well in his time in the Legislature. The answer is straightforward.

We have watched Gov. Walker in action on the job, day after day, week after week. It takes courage to propose new revenue measures in the face of a $4 billion deficit. It takes courage to expand Medicaid — something he alone ultimately did — in the face of a lawsuit brought by legislative leaders in fierce opposition.

It was understandable why Gov. Walker would need to shrink the size of government during his term as a result of low oil revenues. But he did it with a scalpel, not an ax, protecting public services and enjoying the support of labor, organized and unorganized, along the way.

Fundamentally, time and again he kept his word, was transparent and accessible, and put in long hours to build relationships with Democrats, Republicans and independents. Alaska needs these leadership traits in its next governor.

Finally, we believe Gov. Walker’s broad appeal to a diversity of Alaskans makes him capable of winning this fall’s campaign.

Again, we will unhesitatingly be selecting Walker-Drygas in the pick-one primary and first in the ranked-choice general election. We strongly encourage moderates and progressives alike to not “bullet vote” this fall, but use the power afforded them in the ranked-choice system, and support other candidates too. The questions confronting governors and lieutenant governors are often complicated and nuanced. We know and trust the Walker-Drygas ticket will get the answers right much more often than not. This coming campaign is not one to sit on the sidelines. At stake is the future of Alaska. It is that critical.

Reps. Grier Hopkins (D-Fairbanks), Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), Liz Snyder (D-Anchorage), Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage) and Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks) are members of the Alaska House of Representatives.

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