Walker still mulling write-in run for governor

Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2010

JUNEAU - Alaskans will need to wait a few more days to learn whether Bill Walker will re-enter the race for governor as a write-in candidate.

Walker, who finished second to Gov. Sean Parnell in last month's Republican primary, planned to announce his intentions Wednesday. But he told The Associated Press late Tuesday that he isn't sure yet what he'll do.

Walker said he plans to make a decision over the weekend with his family and announce it Monday.

Walker has been weighing his options since the primary, in which he won 33 percent of the Republican vote after focusing largely on his plans to build an "all-Alaska" natural gas pipeline. Walker said an all-Alaska line with an export option provided the best opportunity to get a line built, provide a market for Alaska's North Slope gas and shore up Alaska's now oil-dependent economy.

He said he seriously considered running on the Alaskan Independence Party or Libertarian tickets, though neither party fully embraced him. He left open the door to a write-in run, though he downplayed that option last week, saying he was not inclined to take it.

Days later, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced she would run as a write-in in a bid to keep her job. Walker's campaign manager, Taylor Bickford, said the political landscape changed and that Walker had received an outpouring of support, prompting him to reconsider his position.

Walker said there are many factors to weigh, including the financial challenges of being a write-in candidate and that, while some people want to see him as a candidate, others don't want to see a write-in. He said Murkowski's running as a write-in brings a higher profile and awareness to that option.

Historians and election officials say they do know of an Alaska candidate that has won a race in a write-in campaign.

If he gets in, Walker said, he'll do so because he does not believe his concerns will be addressed by Parnell or Democrat Ethan Berkowitz. Both candidates have courted Walker and his supporters.

Parnell said his own focus on jobs, the economy, education would remain unchanged, whether Walker gets into the race or not. Berkowitz said the fact Walker is even considering jumping in "speaks to the dissatisfaction with this governor, which is the case I've been making."

Walker said he wants to be confident in his chances of winning and does not in any way want to play spoiler.

Asked whether he was leaning a certain way, he said: "It depends on what time of day you ask me. It shifts a bit. And I recognize to do this, I'm going against the grain, but I went against the grain to get in this race initially anyway."



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