Republican attorney Bill Walker, who was defeated by Gov. Sean Parnell in the Republican primary election in 2010, announced Thursday that he will run again for governor of Alaska next year.
Walker, a former mayor of Valdez who now lives in Anchorage, criticized Parnell’s approach to Alaska’s oil and gas sector in his declaration of candidacy Thursday, referring to Senate Bill 21 as a “tax giveaway” — the same language Democrats and some Republicans used in unsuccessfully opposing the bill’s oil tax cuts during this year’s legislative session.
“I’m more focused on getting more exploration of the North Slope, getting more companies to the North Slope,” Walker said Thursday afternoon, adding, “We need to have a couple hundred smaller companies coming in. … We’re sort of rewarding those that are drilling for water in the bathtub.”
Walker identified his top priority as high energy prices in many Alaskan communities.
“We need to stop doing these studies and whatnot and start building some stuff,” said Walker, who also criticized Parnell’s approach on building an in-state natural gas line.
Although his positions on oil and gas issues are similar to those of many of Parnell’s Democratic detractors in the Legislature, Walker said running as a Republican is “sort of a natural thing for me to do.”
“I’m a conservative on social issues, for sure,” Walker said. “I’m right-to-life.”
Parnell has yet to announce his 2014 plans. He is eligible to seek another four-year term as governor, although some Republicans hope he will run for the United States Senate instead. That would set up a marquee clash with freshman Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who is considered a potentially vulnerable incumbent next year.
Another potential gubernatorial candidate is Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. Treadwell is exploring a Senate bid, but he said last year that he would consider running for governor instead if Parnell decides to seek Begich’s Senate seat.
Walker’s statement declaring his candidacy repeatedly refers to Alaska’s executive branch as “the Parnell-Treadwell Administration.”
“I’m concerned about Alaska, and I think some things need to change, and it just doesn’t faze me who else is in the race,” said Walker, who acknowledged he has been asked why he is announcing his candidacy now instead of waiting for Parnell to declare his intentions. “So I’m pretty focused on what I intend to do.”
Walker lost to Parnell in the 2010 primary, garnering 33.1 percent of the vote to 50.1 percent for Parnell, who successfully sought a full term as governor after succeeding to office as then-Gov. Sarah Palin’s lieutenant governor upon her resignation in 2009.
Requests made to the governor's office for comment on Walker's candidacy were directed to Parnell's press secretary, Sharon Leighow, who said via email that she could not comment on campaign issues.
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