Alumnus named Alaska governor after closely contested race
Independent candidate Bill Walker BS ’73 has won the Alaska governor’s race, after a contest that was too close to call until absentee and questioned voters were counted.
“I am beyond myself with excitement,” Walker told the Associated Press. “It has been a long, long journey with a whole lot of Alaskans at my side.”
According to the article, Walker—a lawyer and local politician—is the first candidate unaffiliated with a party to be elected governor since statehood. He bypassed this year’s primary by gathering signatures to support an outside run, but he didn’t change his party affiliation from Republican to undeclared until forming a “unity ticket” with Democrat Byron Mallott.
A major issue for Walker has been a natural gas pipeline project, which he has advocated for since 1977. The current process, approved by the previous governor and the legislature, involves the three major oil producers in Alaska’s North Slope region and TransCanada Corp., which would own at least part of the state’s interest in the pipeline and gas treatment plant. While Walker has vowed not to start over, he believes Alaska needs a greater say than it currently has.
“As governor, I will review the deal and work with the producers as needed to protect Alaska’s interests,” Walker said. “Under my administration the state will finally take the lead on the development of the gas line, including working with the market and the leaseholders to require negotiation and execution of multi-decade gas purchase agreements to allow the long-term financing decisions that will actually result in the construction of a project.”