Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy spoke publicly Thursday for the first time about his decision to endorse Republican former President Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential race.
In a Fox Business interview, Dunleavy said Trump has been “the best president for this state in its short history,” citing Trump’s actions in issuing oil drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, removing road logging restrictions in the Tongass National Forest and pushing to permit a rail line connecting Alaska and Canada.
Dunleavy’s endorsement of Trump was first reported by Politico on Aug. 22, but Dunleavy has not discussed it publicly since. When two Anchorage Daily News reporters attempted to confirm the endorsement with Dunleavy on Aug. 23, he refused to answer.
Asked by email about the endorsement last month, Dunleavy spokesman Jeff Turner said he was unable to answer because “this is a political campaign issue.” Turner went on to say he and other members of the governor’s communications staff “don’t know who you can contact for more information.”
Dunleavy’s endorsement stands out not only among Republican governors nationwide, most of whom have refrained so far from weighing in on the presidential race, but also among Alaska Republicans.
The Alaska Republican Party and both of Alaska’s Republican U.S. senators have not made formal endorsements in the presidential race, in which Trump — facing multiple indictments related to his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election — is leading by a significant margin.
“If we go into a 2024 scenario where it’s basically a redo of 2020 between Trump and Biden, what does that say? That we have nobody better than these two?” Murkowski said at the time.
Sen. Dan Sullivan in a March interview indicated he did not endorse any specific candidate in the Republican primary.
“I think having a good, competitive primary with a new generation of Republicans, by the way, is healthy for our party. It’s healthy for the country, and I plan on supporting the nominee who wins the Republican nomination,” Sullivan said at the time.
Alaska Republican Party chair Ann Brown said in a statement that traditionally, the party “does not weigh in on behalf of any particular Republican presidential candidate” before the Republican presidential primary, which is set to take place March 5.
Dunleavy last year won his second term as governor, meaning he will not be eligible to run again for the position when his term ends in 2026.
Trump endorsed Dunleavy twice in his gubernatorial runs, both in 2018 and in 2022. However, in 2022, Trump’s endorsement was conditional on a promise from Dunleavy that he would not support Murkowski’s reelection bid.
When Trump visited Alaska for a July 2022 rally to campaign for Murkowski’s Republican opponent, Kelly Tshibaka, and for U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin — both of whom lost their respective races — Dunleavy did not meet with Trump.
In his Fox interview on Thursday, Dunleavy said he had met with Trump “at least nine times” and described conversations with Trump as “very serious.”
Dunleavy used the opportunity to criticize President Joe Biden’s administration and the resource development policies he has promoted, calling the sitting president “out and out hostile to Alaska” while also acknowledging that Biden oversaw the approval earlier this year of the $8 billion Willow oil development project. Biden is set to visit Alaska later this month.
“I shudder to think what it’s going to be in the future if what we’ve seen for the last two years is going to be the future,” Dunleavy said.
Watch the interview: