Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) Gov. Bill Walker said Alaskans deserved a competitive race and Mark Begich had the best chance of competing with Republican Mike Dunleavy.
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Walker announced he would suspend his campaign, just 18 days before the election. "Alaska first is and can not be a campaign slogan. When I ran for Governor to do the job, not make decisions to keep the job, I meant that. Every decision I've made as your governor, I have made on the basis on what I believe is best for Alaska."
Walker said with more time he was confident that he and Lt. Governor Valerie Davidson could mount a campaign that could earn a victory. He said absentee ballots have already been mailed. "In the time remaining it has become clear that we can not win a three-way race."
He said he asked many Alaskans the question who had the better chance of running a competitive race against Dunleavy, "At this point, Begich has the better odds. Alaskans deserve a competitive race and Alaskans deserve a choice other than Mike Dunleavy."
Walker said Dunleavy has extreme views that will eliminate Medicaid expansion and take away health care access for 44,000 Alaskan residents. He said it provided $1 billion in federal funds, created jobs and kept hospitals from closing.
Walker said Dunleavy will also take money away from the Alaska LNG gas line project and squash the existing fiscal plan negotiated this past session to use part of the Permanent Fund for state expenses.
Walker said $1 billion in budget cuts proposed by Dunleavy will hurt education and state services.
Walker accepted the resignation of his Lt. Governor Byron Mallott on Tuesday after he reportedly made an inappropriate comment or overture to a female.
The governor and his family received several standing ovations as he made the announcement at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Anchorage.