On Thursday morning, oil and gas attorney and former Valdez mayor Bill Walker became the first major candidate to declare his intent to run for governor in the 2014 Alaska Republican primary.
About 30 people gathered for the announcement at the Walker family home in West Anchorage. Ermalee Hickel, the widow of former Alaska Gov. Walter Hickel, was in attendence, and her late husband's legacy was invoked several times during the event.
Aggressive action on behalf of Alaska was a defining theme of the event. Walker's wife, Donna, introduced her husband as "a warrior" who will defend Alaska, not special interests. "Alaska needs an Alaskan to the core," she said just before her husband came to the podium.
Walker said the major reason he decided to run for governor again is that he's deeply concerned about the direction Alaska has -- and has not -- been going.
As a portent of one major theme Walker's campaign will focus on, hovering always around the proceeding were the memories of three political titans known for their advocacy of Alaska as an "owner state" selling its resources for the greatest return possible, former governors Bill Egan, Hickel and Jay Hammond. Walker referred to the three late governors often as examples of the kind of focus and devotion that Alaska's leadership has lost over the years, qualities he said he aims to return to the governor's office.
Citing Hickel's famous ultimatum to the major North Slope leaseholders, Walker expressed dissapointment that Alaska has gone from "You drill or we will" to Alaska's political leaders standing back expecting other parties to act for the state.
That slippage, he said, is exemplified most recently by the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act and the oil tax reduction that passed through the current legislature with no assurances of reciprocal investment. Both efforts are flawed, he argued ...