Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska, a political independent who has fought a tough battle for a second term, ceased his campaign on Friday and announced that he would throw his support behind his Democratic challenger. Just a few weeks before the election, the race, which had three candidates so far, was announced.
"I think we can not win a three-way race," said Mr. Walker, a former Republican who left his party in 2014. He won the election as an Independent. Mr. Walker said he had concluded that former US Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, has a better chance of pitting his Republican opponent Mike J. Dunleavy (1
The announcement, shocking to many, added chaos to a state race at a crucial time. Alaska has been struggling with a financial crisis in the capital, Juneau, for years, and the next governor will face major challenges. A recession has destroyed thousands of jobs as the crucial oil industry has collapsed. In Anchorage, the state's largest city, increasing crime and homelessness have become major problems.
Even before Mr. Walker's announcement, his campaign had been messed up this week after Deputy Governor Byron Mallott's sudden resignation this week, which Mr. Walker described as "inappropriate."
From the beginning, Mr. Walker, 67, was not a conventional governor. As an independent, he had no party to support him in the legislature, and over time he had angered some of his former allies. Although Mr. Walker had been a Republican, he served alongside a Democrat, Mr. Mallott. Mr. Walker also made many enemies among the Republicans by defeating Gov Sean Parnell, a Republican who sought reelection in 2014.
Complications, control in Juneau was already split. Republicans dominate the state senate, but a Democrat-led coalition controls the House of Representatives
. Walker's term also saw fighting for taxes and a recession in Alaska. The bulk of Alaska's government is supported by taxes paid by the oil companies, and declining revenues have weighed on the budget. Mr. Walker cut spending, but also suggested fees and taxes, including the reintroduction of income tax in Alaska; The legislature rejected this idea.
As Governor, Mr. Walker was careful not to burn bridges with Republicans to try to pass laws. But in his statement to Alaska on Friday he was far less conciliatory. In a point-by-point analysis of Mr. Dunleavy's records and election campaign statements, Mr. Walker made it clear that he saw Dunleavy as the wrong choice for the state from tax to health care.
All in all, despite my many differences with Mark Begich, his attitude to the above-mentioned key issues is more in line with my priorities for Alaska, "said Mr. Walker
Begich, a former mayor of Anchorage , served in the United States Senate and narrowly defeated Dan Sullivan, a Republican and former attorney general, in 2014 – the same year Mr. Walker won the governorship – in 2014. Mr. Begich joined the governorship in June this year and complicating Mr. Walker's re-election plans from the beginning, Mr. Begich's candidacy raised Republican hopes that the Democratic Group voters would split between Mr. Begich and Mr. Walker, which paved the way for Dunleavy's victory.
Unsure It was now how voters could react to Mr. Walker's departure: would Republicans or independents, ie Do you prefer Mr. Walker to turn to the Democrats? Would some people see Mr. Walker's name on the ballot and vote for him, even though he did not say so?
The early voting begins on Monday.