Gara and Walker begin 2022 campaigns for Governor to overthrow Dunleavy


The top three gubernatorial candidates in next year’s election have started their campaigns, asking for donations and support.

Outgoing Governor Mike Dunleavy is the only Republican in the race, and independent candidate Bill Walker and Democratic candidate Les Gara are each vying for the support of Alaskans who oppose Dunleavy’s policies. They are mainly Democrats and Independents of the State.

Walker was governor before Dunleavy and Gara was a longtime lawmaker in the Democratic state of Anchorage.

Alaska has a new electoral system that will send four combined governor-lieutenant-governor tickets – regardless of political party – to a ranked election in November, and candidates can enter the race until May, which means that the campaigns could change significantly in the coming month.

Gara and Walker’s campaigns say this means they are not competing, but the foundations of a political race have not changed: all candidates compete for financial contributions, attention, and luck. be the first choice of voters.

“What Les’s campaign and our campaign have in common is that we are not Dunleavy’s campaign,” said Heidi Drygas, a former Democrat candidate for Walker’s lieutenant governor. “I think you can hook up any other candidate. We happen to be the ones who have already moved forward.

Libertarian candidates have also registered to run but have not announced major campaign events.

Former Governor Tony Knowles and Alaska Constitution drafter Vic Fischer are among those who say they support Gara. Others on Gara’s endorsement list said they intended to vote Walker first and Gara second under the state’s new priority voting system.

During a Monday night fundraiser to benefit Walker, former AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami said he loved Gara, but supported Walker and put him first.

During a pair of fundraisers in late September, Dunleavy was greeted by U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan, Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson and former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, among others. At an event Monday in Fairbanks, supporters included former State Representative Jay Ramras.

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Dunleavy in 2018 and opposed Dunleavy’s recall, but has yet to comment on the 2022 governor’s run.

Gara said early approvals from political leaders didn’t mean much. He called them “window dressing” and “baseball interior”. Others disagree: Early approvals can mean financial contributions and opportunities to get other voters to participate in a campaign.

“Any campaign is looking for validators who can go out and talk to their communities about why they are choosing certain candidates,” said Drygas.

She said she was not only talking about geographic communities, but also political and social communities. The Walker campaign garnered support from both Independents and Republicans, including former Senate Speaker Cathy Giessel, a Republican from Anchorage.

Giessel said she disagreed with the direction Dunleavy has taken on the Permanent Fund dividend and believes Walker’s goal is to do what is best for the state, no matter what. the political cost.

“That’s what he did when he vetoed part of the dividend. That’s why I chose to support him, ”she said, referring to action taken by Walker when he was previously governor.

This dividend veto remains controversial. Another former Republican Senate Speaker, Rick Halford, served as co-chair of Walker’s transition team in 2014. Now the head of a group called the Permanent Fund Advocates, Halford has declined to say whether he would support Walker again. .

Andy Josephson, who served with Gara in the state legislature, said he thought the former lawmaker would be a good governor, but he respects Walker and believes Walker has a better chance of winning against Dunleavy.

It matters, he said, because Alaska has 65,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. Republicans almost always win statewide elections here, and that registration advantage gives Dunleavy an edge as long as there aren’t other Republican candidates.

“The way I describe it to people is it’s the 100-yard sprint, and your opponent is on the 10-yard line when the gunshot goes off, and you just can’t catch up,” he said. he declared.

Gara said he intends to fight his way in the race for governor by appealing directly to voters. He thinks that he, and not Walker, fits better with the beliefs of Democrats and progressives, especially on abortion and same-sex marriage.

“My feeling is that Walker still has a lot of Republican leanings, and that’s why I’m going with Gara,” said Kim Metcalfe, a Democratic organizer in Juneau.

Former state senator Beth Kerttula, also from Juneau, waited to endorse Walker until other potential Democratic candidates, including former U.S. Senate candidate Al Gross, spoke out against a candidacy for the governor post.

Gross confirmed the decision on Monday and declined to support a candidate. Mike Navarre, a former mayor of the Kenai Peninsula borough, had also been seen as a possible Democratic challenger; he approved of Walker.

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