Candidates Nonpartisan Spotlight

Independent Profile: Alaska Governor Bill Walker

He’s done it before, and he could do it again. Alaska Governor Bill Walker has announced his plan to run for re-election in 2018 as an Independent once again. Strongly aligned with the GOP for most of his political career, Bill Walker unaffiliated himself as a Republican and became an Independent to bypass the primary in the 2014 election. 1 An Alaska native, Walker has spent his entire political career as a representative of Alaska in some way or another. In 1979, two years after winning a seat on the Valdez City Council, Walker became the youngest person to serve as Mayor of Valdez, Alaska. 2 He took the governor seat in 2014, winning the general election by less than three percent against former Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.

As governor, one of Bill Walker’s messages advocated for environmental protection, but his focus has switched to “building a sustainable future” with the dip in oil prices around the globe affecting Alaska immensely. 3 As his website states, 90 percent of Alaska’s revenue comes from oil production, and with production and oil prices dropping, adjustments have to be made.

His message to the people of Alaska is to “work together to close the gap”. 3 The video below lists potential solutions to the problems his state faces.

As governor of Alaska, Walker hasn’t had the smoothest ride. He had Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate Joe Miller make an effort for a recall, and made another move that cost Alaska residents nearly half of their annual payment of Permanent Funds in 2016. 2 He also stirred the Alaskan pot when he welcomed in Syrian refugees after President Obama enacted a plan to allow 10,000 refugees into the United States 4 – another stance a former Republican is not known for taking. This shows signs of compromise, a trait that the ideal centrist, independent candidate should have in his or her arsenal.

Is Bill Walker truly a centrist, Independent candidate?

According to the graphic, Walker somewhat coincides with centrist principles, as he has made an effort to compromise with other government officials, particularly to “break a deficit-reduction logjam the state of Alaska is seeing.” 7 However, his party alliance does come into question. Walker used an unaffiliated platform to bypass a primary, but he has announced that he will, once again, run as Independent. His Democratic running candidate suggests, too, that he has the ability to compromise, to meet in the middle, but his long run with the GOP smells of party bias. In some ways he falls in the path of the centrist movement. Walker acts and speaks progressively, as shown in his attempt to bring in Syrian refugees; an act of kindness and acceptance. However, as a governor, Bill Walker has shown his ability to mutate as the political climate dictates, as shown in his switch from Republican to independent. This is not necessarily a troubling issue to discuss, because as we can see from both sides of the aisle, some who have represented either the Left or Right as moderates have ended up leaving their affiliation behind due to the never-ending battle between the two parties.

Will Walker win?

Gov. Bill Walker’s popularity has slipped in the past 12 months. The Alaska governor who ran as a nonpartisan candidate is now the fifth least approved of governor in the nation. 5 Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, is the only candidate with significant state-level experience and the only real threat to unseating Walker. With his last election victory holding less than a mere three percent gap, Alaska could opt for another strong Republican candidate during their troubling economic times. After numerous credit downgrades, a $3 billion deficit, and a reputation as one of the worst states in America for business, Alaskans seemingly can’t afford four more years of Bill Walker as governor. 6

The people of Alaska could be looking for a candidate that aligns strongly with their wallet, and not necessarily the environment they live in. Gov. Bill Walker’s competition, Sen. Mike Dunleavy, could be the candidate the citizens agree upon.

It is important for individuals in Alaska to see the value in an independent governor, a man willing to listen to all sides, and a politician that has the ability to shift his views in order to reach the end-goal of creating a better environment, both environmentally and economically, for the state he or she is representing. Governor Bill Walker has done just that, and we stand behind him here at Free Wheel.

 

1 Daily News Miner, Walker planning to run as independent for Alaska governor, August 1, 2013
2 https://ballotpedia.org/Bill_Walker
3 https://gov.alaska.gov/
4 Washington Post, “Were Syrian refugees involved in the Paris attacks? What we know and don’t know,” November 17, 2015
5 Suzanne Downing, “Alaska Governor Struggles for Approval,” Must Read Alaska, 4/12/2017
6 RGA, https://www.rga.org/alaska-cant-afford-four-years-bill-walker-governo
7 Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com/politics/alaska-legislature/2017/06/05/alaska-gov-walker-presents-compromise-proposal-with-tax-to-break-deficit-reduction-logjam/

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