JUNEAU - Bill Walker, who finished behind Gov. Sean Parnell in last month's GOP gubernatorial primary, is close to deciding whether to continue his candidacy.
Campaign manager Taylor Bickford said Friday that Walker wants to see if a third-party candidate withdraws by Wednesday, clearing a spot on the Libertarian or Alaskan Independence Party tickets. Bickford said Walker hasn't been in negotiations with or courting either party but sees the third-party route as a leading option.
Walker, an Anchorage attorney, also could mount a write-in candidacy.
Walker invested about $300,000 of his own money on his primary run. During the campaign, he focused almost exclusively on building an all-Alaska natural gas pipeline. Walker argued that such a proposal with an export option provided the best shot for getting a line built and for providing a market for Alaska's North Slope gas.
In a statement Friday, Parnell, who has supported letting the market dictate the best approach to building a line, said he and running mate Mead Treadwell had spoken with Walker since the primary about moving a line forward faster. Parnell was in Fairbanks, reaching out to supporters of his primary rivals.
"I believe Alaska gas can be competitive in North America and Asia," he said.
Walker confirmed he'd met with Parnell but said he hadn't heard anything that provided assurances the governor would embrace the all-Alaska option. If he had, "I wouldn't continue to look at my options for staying in the race," he said.
Walker said his decision will boil down to what's in the best interest of Alaska and whether he can win. He said he wouldn't jump in if he didn't think he could win.