Bill Walker (American politician)

William Martin Walker (born April 16, 1951) is an American attorney and politician who served as the 11th governor of Alaska, from 2014 to 2018. He is the second governor of Alaska born in the state after William A. Egan (1959–1966 and 1970–1974).

Bill Walker
Bill Walker.jpg
11th Governor of Alaska
In office
December 1, 2014 – December 3, 2018
LieutenantByron Mallott
Valerie Davidson
Preceded bySean Parnell
Succeeded byMike Dunleavy
Mayor of Valdez, Alaska
In office
1979–1980
Preceded byMac MacDonald
Succeeded byStephen McAlpine[1]
Personal details
Born
William Martin Walker

(1951-04-16) April 16, 1951 (age 69)
Fairbanks, Alaska, U.S.
Political partyIndependent (2014–present)
Other political
affiliations
Republican (Before 2014)
Spouse(s)Donna Walker
Children4
EducationLewis and Clark College (BS)
University of Puget Sound (JD)

Walker was born in Fairbanks to Frances (Park) and businessman Ed Walker; he was raised in Delta Junction and Valdez, Alaska. He obtained a J.D. degree and served as mayor, city councilor, and city attorney for Valdez, and as general counsel for the Alaska Gasline Port Authority. Walker ran for governor of Alaska in the Republican Party primary election in 2010, losing to incumbent Sean Parnell.

Walker ran as an Independent in the 2014 election, merging his campaign with that of Democratic nominee Byron Mallott, who became Walker's running mate. Both candidates' prior respective running mates withdrew from the race and the Walker/Mallott ticket defeated Parnell and his running mate, former Anchorage mayor Dan Sullivan. Walker ran for reelection in 2018, but facing low polling numbers and Lieutenant Governor Mallott's resignation, he dropped out of the race on October 19, 2018, and endorsed Democrat Mark Begich.

Early life and educationEdit

Walker was born in Fairbanks, Alaska and raised in the small, rural interior city of Delta Junction and the port of Valdez on Prince William Sound.[2] He was the fourth child of Alaskan pioneers Frances (Park) and Ed Walker. During World War II, Ed was an Alaskan Scout with Castner's Cutthroats in the Aleutian Islands and Frances worked on the Alaska-Canadian Highway. During the 1964 Alaska earthquake, which severely damaged Valdez, the family lost most of their personal and business possessions.[3][2] At the age of 12, Walker became a janitor to help his family.[2]

Walker graduated from Valdez High School in 1969. He received his B.S. in Business Management from Lewis & Clark College in 1973 and his J.D. from the University of Puget Sound School of Law (now Seattle University School of Law) in 1983.[4] Walker worked in his family's construction business as a carpenter, laborer, and teamster on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which helped him pay for his education.[5]

CareerEdit

From 1977 to 1979, Walker served on the Valdez city council.[6] He later was elected mayor of Valdez, serving from 1979 through 1980. At 27, he was Valdez's youngest mayor.[7][2]

Walker and his wife, Donna, owned a law firm;[8] he became a prominent oil and gas attorney.[9] The firm represented the city of Valdez[3][8] and the Alaska Gasoline Port Authority.[8][10][11] Walker "represented the city of Valdez in lawsuits that charged [oil] companies with lowballing the property tax valuation of the industry-owned Trans-Alaska pipeline system". He also attempted to build a gas pipeline in Alaska.[9]

Governor of AlaskaEdit

2010 electionEdit

Walker challenged incumbent Governor Sean Parnell as well as Gerald L. Heikes, Merica Hlatcu, Sam Little, and Ralph Samuels in the Republican Party primary election on August 24, 2010. Walker finished second, with 33.95% of the vote, while Parnell won the nomination with 49.49%.[7][12] The general election was held on November 2, 2010 and Parnell defeated his Democratic opponent, Ethan Berkowitz.

2014 electionEdit

In 2013, Walker announced his intention to run in the 2014 gubernatorial election as a Republican.[13] Later that year, he decided to run as a nonpartisan candidate instead, taking the advice and encouragement he had received prior to his 2010 campaign from former Alaska governor Wally Hickel.[4][14]

Walker selected Craig Fleener, a former Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, to run for lieutenant governor on his ticket.[15] He campaigned on a centrist platform, mixing traditionally conservative and liberal positions. Walker opposed the construction of the Pebble Mine and acknowledged the existence of climate change and the need to adopt energy policies to help mitigate its harmful effects, but supported increasing oil and gas pipeline capacities and new drilling for petroleum in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He also supported gun rights, a degree of state sovereignty for Alaska, and the Medicaid expansion made possible by the Affordable Care Act.[16][better source needed]

On September 2, 2014, Walker held a press conference with Byron Mallott, the Democratic nominee for governor, announcing that they would merge their campaigns, with Mallott replacing Fleener as Walker's running mate.[17] Mallott's Democratic running mate, attorney and State Senator Hollis French, also stepped aside, leaving no official Democratic candidate in the election. Before their announcement the merger was met with resistance from the Alaska Republican Party, but it was ruled valid by the Alaska Supreme Court.[18]

Walker led in polls taken weeks before the November 4 general election.[19] Parnell was widely criticized for his support of billions in unpopular tax reductions for the petrochemical industry and the development of a scandal featuring five years of alleged cover-ups of rampant sexual abuse, cronyism, corruption and whistleblower suppression in the Alaska National Guard, for which Parnell served as Commander in Chief.[20][21][22] Following Election Day, the race was considered too close to call. On November 7, Walker and Mallott held a 3,165-vote lead.[23][24][25][26][27] On November 14, after Walker and Mallott extended their lead to 4,634 votes,[28] media outlets called the race.[29][30] Two days later, Parnell conceded.

TenureEdit

 
Walker with President Barack Obama in 2015
 
Walker and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, May 2017

Walker took the oath of office on December 1, 2014. He faced a Republican-controlled legislature, but the Republican majorities were not enough to override a gubernatorial veto. With the Republican legislature opposed to Walker's attempts to expand Medicaid, Walker decided to use his executive authority to do so.[31]

In 2015, due to low oil prices, Alaska anticipated a $4 billion budget deficit. Budget cuts and raised taxes were proposed to reduce it. In December 2015, Walker proposed reinstating a statewide income tax as well as reducing annual payments to qualified state residents from the Alaska Permanent Fund.[32] His June 2016 partial veto of legislation pertaining to the APF resulted in annual payments to state residents being cut by more than half.[33] The New Yorker later wrote that this "deeply unpopular" move "doomed" Walker's chances of reelection.[34]

In July 2018, Walker signed into law a legislative ethics bill.[35] The bill prevented a stronger ballot measure, which would have prohibited foreign corporations from donating to statewide campaign candidates, from appearing on the fall ballot.[36]

In September 2018, the office of Anchorage District Attorney Richard K. Allen entered into a controversial plea bargain in the case of a former FAA air traffic controller who allegedly kidnapped a native Alaskan woman, choked her until she passed out and then masturbated over her.[37][38] In response to citizen outrage at the reduced sentence, Walker issued a statement saying that the sentence was insufficient and that he would propose legislation making unwanted contact with semen a sex crime.[39]

Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott resigned on October 16, 2018, citing "inappropriate comments" that he and Walker did not detail. A new lieutenant governor, Alaska Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Davidson, was sworn in.[40]

2018 electionEdit

Walker sought reelection in 2018. On October 19, 2018, facing low polling numbers, he suspended his campaign and endorsed the Democratic candidate, Mark Begich.[41][42][43]

Personal lifeEdit

Before becoming governor and moving to Juneau, Walker and his wife Donna resided in Anchorage. As of 2017, the couple had two sons, two daughters, and five grandchildren.[44][13]

In November 2016, Walker announced that he had developed prostate cancer, for which he would have routine, out-patient surgery the following month.[45]

Electoral historyEdit

2010 Alaska gubernatorial Republican primary election[46]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Sean Parnell (inc.) 54,125 49.49
Republican Bill Walker 35,734 33.95
Republican Ralph Samuels 15,376 14.05
Republican Sam Little 1,661 1.54
Republican Merica Hlatcu 626 0.56
Republican Gerald L. Heikes 460 0.40
Total votes 107,982 100
2014 Alaska gubernatorial election[47]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Bill Walker/Byron Mallott 134,658 48.1% +48.1%
Republican Sean Parnell (inc.)/Dan Sullivan 128,435 45.9% -13.22%
Libertarian Carolyn Clift/Andrew C. Lee 8,985 3.21% +2.16%
Constitution J. R. Myers/Maria Rensel 6,987 2.5% +2.5%
Write-ins Others 893 0.32% -0.04%
Majority 6,223 2.22%
Turnout 279,958 55%

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Under Oil's Powerful Spell, Alaska Was Off Guard". April 2, 1989.
  2. ^ a b c d Revis, Lee (May 1, 2013). "Walker running for governor 2014: Second run for Valdez city attorney and Port Authority backer". Valdez Star (18 ed.). Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Hobson, Lindsay (March 28, 2014). "Walker Joins Valdez 'Choose Respect' March & Commemorates Earthquake & Oil Spill Anniversaries". Delta News. Archived from the original on September 4, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Jackinsky, McKibben (July 2, 2014). "Walker says he's taking Hickel's advice, running as independent". Homer News. Archived from the original on October 14, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  5. ^ "About Governor Walker". State of Alaska. 2014. Archived from the original on September 30, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  6. ^ Zemach, Heidi (June 30, 2014). "Walker campaigns to become Alaska Governor". Seward City News. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Bill Walker (Alaska)". Ballotpedia. Associated Press. 2014. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Herz, Nathaniel; Anchorage, Alaska's Energy Desk- (April 5, 2019). "Former Gov. Bill Walker lands at political ally's law firm".
  9. ^ a b "ALASKA: 'Glass-half-full' governor confronts oil-driven fiscal crisis". www.eenews.net.
  10. ^ Dischner, Molly (September 6, 2012). "Summit to showcase Valdez as best for Alaska LNG". Alaska Journal of Commerce (2). Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  11. ^ Dischner, Molly (December 8, 2011). "Walker pushes for natural gas pipeline to Valdez". Peninsula Clarion. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  12. ^ Mauer, Richard (September 2, 2014). "It's official: Walker-Mallott will take on Parnell-Sullivan in bid for Alaska governor". Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  13. ^ a b Woodham, Scott (April 25, 2013). "Bill Walker declares intent for 2nd run at Alaska governor's office". Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  14. ^ "Walker planning to run as independent for Alaska governor". Newsminer. Associated Press. August 1, 2013. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  15. ^ Demer, Lisa (October 14, 2013). "Walker chooses Fleener as running mate in independent bid for governor". Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  16. ^ "WalkerMallottForAlaska.com". Archived from the original on December 20, 2014.
  17. ^ Mauer, Richard (September 1, 2014). "Walker, Mallott to join forces in governor's race". Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  18. ^ "Judge rules in favor of merged Mallot and Walker campaigns". Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  19. ^ Election 2014: Alaska Governor, Rasmussen Reports, September 29, 2014; retrieved October 3, 2014.
  20. ^ Jill Burke and Richard Mauer, "Parnell defends handling alaska national guard dysfunction, plans more firings", Alaska Dispatch News, October 2, 2014; retrieved October 3, 2014.
  21. ^ "Parnell waited years to take direct action on National Guard misconduct". Anchorage Daily News. October 2, 2014.
  22. ^ Caslon Hatch, Debate draws standing-room-only crowd Archived June 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, KTUU, July 23, 2014; retrieved October 3, 2014.
  23. ^ "In governor's race, Walker has edge – or maybe not". Alaska Dispatch News. November 6, 2014. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  24. ^ "Governor's race uncalled; Walker plans transition". Alaska Journal. November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  25. ^ "Walker introduces co-chairs of transition team". Houston Chronicle. November 12, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  26. ^ "Number of uncounted votes grows in Alaska U.S. Senate race". Alaska Dispatch News. November 7, 2014. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  27. ^ "More than 50,000 votes remain to be counted in heated Alaska races". Alaska Dispatch News. November 10, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  28. ^ "Friday vote count makes Walker victory in race for governor look certain". Alaska Dispatch News. November 15, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  29. ^ "Alaska Governor Race: Incumbent Republican Sean Parnell Loses To Independent Bill Walker". The Huffington Post. November 15, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  30. ^ "Unity ticket defeats Alaska GOP Gov. Sean Parnell in drawn-out race". Los Angeles Times. November 15, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  31. ^ Herz, Nathaniel (July 16, 2015). "Walker says he'll use executive authority to expand Medicaid in Alaska". Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
  32. ^ "Alaska governor proposes income tax, PFD changes to offset budget gap | Local News". newsminer.com. December 9, 2015. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  33. ^ "Gov. Walker's veto cuts Alaska Permanent Fund dividends to $1,022". Anchorage Daily News. September 23, 2016.
  34. ^ Kaufman, Dan (March 5, 2020). "Why Alaskans Are Trying to Recall Their Governor". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  35. ^ Note, Recent Legislation: Alaska Prohibits Spending on Local Elections by Foreign-Influenced Corporations, 132 Harv. L. Rev. 2402 (2019).
  36. ^ Viechnicki, Joe (June 7, 2018). "Legislative ethics bill will keep issue off fall ballot". Alaska Public Media. KFSK Petersburg. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  37. ^ Klint, Chris (August 10, 2017). "Charges: Woman strangled by air-traffic controller thought she was 'going to die'". KTVA. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  38. ^ Wang, Amy B. (September 22, 2018). "Man accused of kidnapping woman and masturbating on her is given 'one pass,' won't go to prison". Washington Post. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  39. ^ DeMarban, Alex; Hollander, Zaz (September 23, 2018). "State defends no-jail sentence in Anchorage assault case". Alaska Daily News. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  40. ^ "Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott abruptly resigns following "inappropriate comments"". Anchorage Daily News. October 16, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  41. ^ "Gov. Bill Walker drops out of campaign for Alaska Governor". Anchorage Daily News. October 19, 2018. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  42. ^ Kelly, Caroline (October 19, 2018). "Alaska Gov. Bill Walker suspends re-election bid". CNN. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  43. ^ Johnson, Kirk (October 19, 2018). "Bill Walker, Governor of Alaska, Suspends Campaign Amid Sinking Polls". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  44. ^ Biography, Governor of Alaska. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
  45. ^ Hertz, Nathaniel (November 4, 2016). "Alaska Gov. Walker diagnosed with prostate cancer". Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  46. ^ "GEMS ELECTION RESULTS". www.elections.alaska.gov.
  47. ^ "2014 General Election November 4, 2014 Official Results". elections.alaska.gov. November 11, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Byron Mallott
Withdrew
Democratic nominee for Governor of Alaska
Endorsed

2014
Succeeded by
Mark Begich
Political offices
Preceded by
Sean Parnell
Governor of Alaska
2014–2018
Succeeded by
Mike Dunleavy