Walker/Wielechowski – Right for Alaska
We like Sen. Hollis French, and respect him. He’s been an outstanding legislator. We think he’d make a good governor, and have donated to and voted for him in the past.
Our issue with the senator’s contemplation of another gubernatorial run is not the candidate, but the fact that the candidate cannot and will not be elected governor. The problem is math.
Sen. French retained his own state senate seat in his newly drawn district by the skin of his teeth. The statewide political terrain is far less friendly to him than West Anchorage. The far right made French the poster boy of liberal Palin-bashers during the Troopergate scandal in 2008, and have never let it go. It’s not fair, but it’s the truth, and Sen. French’s higher-than-expected negative ratings bear that out. Coupled with the fact that he had problems dispatching the hapless and corrupt Bob Bell in his own corner of Anchorage, getting traction with the voters of Fairbanks, Nikiski and The Valley is utterly unlikely.
Politics is about addition, not subtraction. The guy who lost to the guy who lost to Parnell last time—and left a divisive primary in his wake—isn’t the obvious choice for a successful standard bearer.
Whatever we think of Sean Parnell—and it isn’t much—the governor will be very tough to beat. He will enjoy statewide name ID and the other trappings of incumbency. He will be able to take thinly veiled campaign trips around the state on the public dime. He will have deep pockets, and enjoy the support of the multinational oil companies toward whom he’s been so generous with Alaska’s money. And if the race is remotely competitive, we’re sure the Republican Governors’ Association will deliver another late infusion of cash to the effort.
Alaska is a state that is resource rich and infrastructure poor. We face challenges that will require more than slogans, or devotion to a political party to address. Our state is shamed by our domestic and sexual violence epidemic, and its rural poverty and chronic substance abuse. We suffer a brain drain among our talented young, and remain the only state with neither a medical nor a law school. And politicians have been evoking the spectre of a gas line for so long that it feels like we’re on a mythical quest to find a unicorn.
If allowed to stand, the governor’s crowning jewel, SB21, will see the hemorrhaging of our savings. Money that we need for the things we care about – education, infrastructure, public safety, parks – will evaporate. And if the bill is overturned by the will of the people at the ballot box this August, but the same man continues at the helm come November, there’s no reason to believe we won’t be fighting a similar battle a year down the road. These are dark times for state politics, and dark times require that we, as Alaskans, take off our blue shirts and our red shirts and come together on the issues that most matter for our future. It is time to think beyond party, and start thinking about Alaska.
The stakes for Alaska are too high to demand ideological purity if we are to regain control of our state’s destiny, its budget priorities, its rapidly declining fiscal prospects, the security of its PFD, and if we want state policy to be set in Alaska instead of in a shiny glass office tower in downtown Houston.
The way, the only way, to dislodge Gov. Parnell is by way of a coalition that is broad enough to encompass not only Alaska’s progressives and Democratic minority, but moderates, independents, and the sane Republicans of yore. We’ll borrow a philosophy from Democratic Presidential adviser Paul Begala, who was recently in Anchorage supporting Mark Begich at a fundraiser. He disparaged political “litmus tests” and talked about the need to support Democrats who were pro-gun, pro-drilling, or pro-life. The key issue for him, he said, is a candidate who supports the middle class, jobs, workers, The American Dream. These are the core issues under which we must unite.
Happily, there is a candidate with that kind of broad appeal; who can unite that kind of coalition behind himself; who believes in Alaska First; salmon first; who already has the endorsement of labor; and has worked tirelessly with a bipartisan coalition to keep Alaska’s wealth in Alaska for future generations. His name is Bill Walker, a Republican running as an Independent.
The logical wingman for this center-right Independent candidate? We think it’s Democratic State Senator Bill Wielechowski. He and Walker have a good working relationship, see eye-to-eye on oil and gas, salmon issues, and the middle class. He recently won a prestigious national award for his service to the military men and women in Alaska. And he has an A+ rating with the NRA.
These two do not agree on every issue – no one does, not even the editors of The Mudflats. But we agree that if we apply our broad “Alaska First” litmus test, which stretches across the political divide, we find that most Alaskans want a fair share of revenue from our oil, care deeply about salmon and jobs, and want Alaska’s working men and women to have a fair shake, and a chance for their kids to stay in Alaska and have it better than they did.
It’s time for Alaska Republicans, and Alaska Democrats to shed their party labels, band together, and do what’s right for Alaska. Otherwise, the future may look very bleak, indeed.
Walker/Wielechowski for Governor and Lt. Governor.