Politics

Former Alaska Gov. Bill Walker will run again for governor in 2022 as an independent

Former Alaska Gov. Bill Walker will run again for governor in 2022 as an independent, he said Tuesday morning.

His lieutenant governor candidate is Heidi Drygas, former commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Both filed documents on Monday allowing them to begin fundraising for the 2022 election, then confirmed their candidacy.

“Our focus is really on bringing the stability back to Alaska that we used to have,” Walker said.

He said that over the past three years, there has been a lack of progress on the state’s fiscal issues, a lack of stability, and continued battles between the governor and Legislature.

Alaskans don’t know “about how much more from the university is going to be cut, how much more can be cut from the marine highway system and how government services will continue to decline,” Walker said.

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who defeated Walker in the 2018 election, announced last week that he will run for reelection. Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer has filed paperwork indicating he will also run for reelection.

“This is not unexpected, and we anticipate more candidates entering the race,” Dunleavy’s campaign said in a written statement following Walker’s announcement. “We look forward to the discussion and the debate, and as always, the people of Alaska will decide. We are confident that the critical issues governor Dunleavy has addressed in his first term will be met with approval by the majority of Alaskans.”

Former Anchorage Democratic state Rep. Les Gara has said he is considering a run for governor as well. He declined extended comment on Tuesday.

“Bill and I have had our agreements and disagreements but get along well, and this should be his day in the sun,” he said.

In addition to Dunleavy and Meyer, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Billy Toien and lieutenant governor candidate Shirley Rainbolt have also registered for next year’s election.

Under Alaska’s new voting system, the governor and lieutenant governor will run together on a single ticket.

All tickets, regardless of party status, will appear on the primary election ballot. The top four tickets will advance to the general election, where a winner is chosen with ranked-choice voting.

Walker said the 2022 election won’t be “a true rematch” between himself and Dunleavy because of a late-breaking scandal that occurred in 2018.

In October that year, Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott abruptly resigned over what the administration said were “inappropriate comments.”

Reporting by the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica, published after Mallott’s death two years later, revealed the lieutenant governor had propositioned a public safety official.

Walker suspended his reelection campaign, but it was too late to entirely withdraw from the election. His name still appeared on election ballots, and both Dunleavy and Democratic candidate Mark Begich finished ahead of him in a three-way race.

“When you suspend a campaign a month before the election, that really isn’t a true choice between myself and Mike. That was a very unusual situation and circumstance,” Walker said.

The former governor has been floating a possible gubernatorial run since the spring.

Drygas said Walker asked her in March or April to run as his lieutenant governor.

“You know, serving in his cabinet was the honor of my life. I saw what government can be: A government and a governor who is collaborative, empathetic, trustworthy, and treats all Alaskans with with an equal amount of respect,” she said.

“I feel I feel a sense of responsibility. I owe it to this state to do what I can do — what we can do together — to restore faith in government, restore stability, restore trust,” she said.

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