Gubernatorial candidates head into final stretch

Gubernatorial candidates head into final stretch
Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 6:27 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An enthusiastic crowd cheered on Gov. Mike Dunleavy as he took the stage at a Republican Party event at the Anchorage Baptist Temple Sunday. In an interview afterward, the republican candidate said he felt his chances for re-election were good.

“Look back over the last four years of my tenure with regard to crime, with regard to fiscal, the PFD, dealing with the pandemic, dealing with negative-three-dollar-a-barrel oil. We are better today across the board than we were four years ago,” Dunleavy said.

Sunday’s event was one of the few large public appearances Dunleavy has made during the campaign. Former Representative Les Gara, the Democrat in the race, has been vocal about what he thinks Dunleavy is doing wrong. Gara spoke about it during a prior debate.

“We think this governor is such an extremist in the way he has created this education crisis, in the way he has eliminated jobs so that people are leaving the state because they can’t find a good job,” Gara said. “In the way he has not protected our fish — and fishermen don’t know whether our fish are going to be sustainable into the future. These are big issues in the state.”

Former Governor Bill Walker, running as a nonpartisan, agreed. Walker said he is particularly concerned about Dunleavy’s lack of education funding, adding that he and Gara have a common goal of defeating Dunleavy. Walker said changing the direction of the state was a big factor when he was deciding whether to run.

“Shame on me if I don’t do this, shame on me,” Walker said. “Because if I don’t, it would be like saying I’m okay with what we are doing, and I’m not okay with what we are doing.”

Dunleavy isn’t the only republican in the race. Former Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce is also running. Pierce is facing a civil lawsuit over accusations he sexually harassed a former assistant. Pierce declined a request for an interview. In an October debate in Anchorage, Pierce said he was proud of the fact that he had kept the Kenai Peninsula “open for business” during COVID. He also cited his intention to fight overreach by the federal government.

“I’m the only candidate standing up here tonight that will push back aggressively against the federal overreach in this state,” Pierce said. “There will be no delays.”

Republican candidates have encouraged voters to “rank the red,” while Gara and Walker have urged supporters to rank them first and second according to preference.