The Trail

Gov. Walker says he voted for Begich

Gov. Bill Walker voted early for Democrat Mark Begich ahead of Election Day next week, he said, even though his own name is still on the ballot in the Alaska governor's race.

Walker, a Republican-turned-independent, suspended his re-election campaign on Oct. 19 and at the same time threw his support behind Begich. He talked to members of the media outside of Dark Horse Coffee Co. in downtown Anchorage Friday after voting at City Hall, in an effort to make it clear that he is no longer in the race.

Walker voted for Begich because of his concerns about what Republican Mike Dunleavy would do if elected, he said.

"I don't align with (Begich) on everything, obviously, that's why I have not given him an endorsement," Walker said. "But I certainly think that he is better for Alaska than Dunleavy is."

Walker also said he voted "no" on Ballot Measure 1, also called Stand for Salmon. He wouldn't share how he voted on the rest of the ballot, including on judges and the congressional race between Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young and independent challenger Alyse Galvin.

"Other races, there's no reason for me to speak out openly how I've voted on those," he said.

He wanted to talk to the media about his votes for Begich and against Ballot Measure 1 to drive home the fact that he has suspended his campaign.

"I'm only doing it because I think it's important that, people — because of the, a bit of confusion," he said. "It's a little bit awkward to go and look at a ballot that your name is on … and not vote for myself, but it really, to me it was a vote for Alaska. That's how I rationalized it."

[Election workers can't discuss candidates at the polls. That includes telling voters Walker dropped out.]

Walker's name is still on the ballot alongside Begich, Dunleavy, and Libertarian candidate Billy Toien because he didn't withdraw from the election by the official Sept. 4 deadline to do so.

The governor still isn't saying much about what his former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott said that led him to resign in mid-October.

Mallott resigned after making unspecified "inappropriate comments" to a woman, but the Walker administration has not shared what those comments were. Walker dropped out of the race three days after Mallott's resignation.

The comments were made to an adult woman, Walker said, and the Alaska Department of Law has "deemed that there was nothing illegal that took place."

Walker would not say on Friday what Mallott's comments were.

"Because that's something that she feels would potentially — a person could sort of pull together what, who the individual is, and we want to protect her," he said.

After voting, Walker picked a traditional "I voted today!" sticker depicting Alaska's state flag. This year for early voters, that sticker is up against a variety of others with drawings of Alaska animals, like a hipster moose in a red-and-black plaid shirt and beanie, or a walrus riding a snowmachine.

"I did have a choice of stickers, and I looked longingly at the moose sticker," he said, "but I'm kind of a traditional guy, and so I went with the traditional sticker."

Walker had just returned to Anchorage on Friday afternoon after a visit to Fairbanks. He also recently traveled to Hawaii, where he was on the island of Oahu for three days, he said.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Annie Zak

Annie Zak was a business reporter for the ADN between 2015 and 2019.