Independent-minded Alaskan Bill Walker, a strong proponent of the All-Alaska Gasline that would parallel the Trans-Alaska Pipeline to Valdez, has launched his second campaign to become Governor. He will be running in the 2014 Republican primary. Walker finished a strong second behind Sean Parnell and ahead of Ralph Samuels in the 2010 Republican primary. Walker's imposing resume is posted HERE. Media reaction posted by Alaska Dispatch, the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Native News, and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
Walker has both an official campaign website and a Facebook page. According to his full press release, Walker said he is entering the race because Alaska needs a strong, aggressive leader with a proven track record of putting Alaska's interests first. "The only side of the boardroom table I have ever sat on is the Alaska side, and the only interests I have ever advanced are those of Alaskans," Walker stated.
Once again, oil and gas is Walker's major issue. Walker says Alaska is in an energy crisis now and we are doing little to solve that in time to save our communities that are at risk. There are short term solutions available that could fill the gap while we develop the world scale gasline project that matches the global market opportunity before us. Alaska owns trillions of dollars of gas on the North Slope that must be moved to Alaskans at reduced prices based on the economy of scale of a large volume gasline to also serve the premium Asian markets. World recognized energy consultants have concluded that the revenue to Alaska from the large scale development of its natural gas ranges between $200-$400 billion over 30 years. Walker continues to oppose the small-diameter gasline touted by Ralph Samuels in 2010 and pushed by some in the state legislature in 2013; he says the small volume line that received funding to begin the open season preparation this past session would, if built as a small volume line, result in no revenue to the state and would increase the cost of energy to a majority of those served. Many people believe a small-diameter line could never be economical under any circumstances because it could neither deliver gas in sufficient volume nor are there a sufficient number of prospective customers to make it affordable.
In keeping with this interest, here's what Walker says he would do first if elected:
As governor, I will take immediate steps and use every power in the office of the Governor to get economical energy to Alaska's communities. Regarding trucking LNG from the North Slope to Fairbanks, it can be done in two years. This project should not be financed by using a few points of lower interest financing as proposed by the Parnell-Treadwell administration, but should be funded as a 100% grant of $250 million. Removing the debt component from the rate payers could reduce the cost of energy in Fairbanks by as much as 80%. Additionally, with this lower price of gas coming off the North Slope, it could be distributed to those rural Alaska communities on the river system as well as highway communities at a significantly reduced price. As a result of ACES, Alaska has over $16 billion in savings that should be used to address the energy crisis immediately.
Bill Walker is apprehensive over the state government's efforts to roll back oil taxes. He says Alaska has become a very different state over the past five years, whereby the major North Slope oil companies now dictate our tax and resource development policy. The Parnell Administration introduced and passed a bill this past session that he claims returns billions of dollars each year to the major oil companies without any corresponding requirement that any of that money be spent in Alaska. Walker believes if the recently-passed Senate Bill 21 tax rollback survives a possible referendum drive, we need a governor who will recognize if the tax giveaway is resulting in benefits to Alaska. If it is not, our governor must have the guts to stand up for Alaska. If the tax rollback legislation is removed by the voter referendum, Alaska needs a governor who understands the North Slope leases and is willing to enforce the development/exploration obligations set forth in those leases. Walker is also opposed to the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) because he thinks it gives up the state's timeline and goals to other parties and expects them to act on behalf of the state. Bill Walker embraces Jay Hammond's classic vision of Alaska as an "owner state".
Walker also has a track record of social conservatism, although not as pronounced as that of Sean Parnell. He is pro-life and and supports parental notification rights in the case of abortion. Walker is strong on the Second Amendment and has expressed previous support for open and concealed carry by law abiding citizens. Walker also previously stated that the key to health care reform is empowering patients and healthcare providers, and not the government; he wants to create incentives for more health care providers to relocate to Alaska. You can read his previous statements on many other issues at this VoteSmart portal.
Public Reaction: Sean Parnell's spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said that she expects the governor to make an announcement about his future political ambitions in the next couple of weeks, but offered no further detail on what office he might be eyeing. Since a February PPP survey indicated that Parnell would be the only candidate who could beat Mark Begich in 2014, he might decide to go that route. That's because Bill Walker would give Parnell a serious run for his money if Parnell decides to run for re-election. Even the lefties are willing to give Walker a fair hearing. Some good comments appended to some of the media stories:
akwillis April 25th 10:51 A.M: (Anchorage Daily News)
Mr. Walker is head and shoulders above the current incumbent. I agree with others that he needs to broaden his focus on issues other than natural gas pipelines and where they terminate. Will be interesting to watch him for opinions on the political agenda of his party during the next legislative session where I suspect we will see a full court press for ALEC created legislation that gleans government support for corporate operations and agendas of those who fund ALEC; amending the State Constitution to allow direct or indirect public support of private and religious schools; restrictions on abortion, voter identification law, and more nullification of federal law in Alaska with support for more confrontation with the federal government (except when taking their money).
Barbara Bachmeier April 25th 10:51 A.M. (Anchorage Daily News):
Bill Walker is an intelligent, principled, honest and ethical man. He's quite unlike the incumbent who most recently:
a) sided with big oil against Alaskans and rammed SB 21 through the legislature,
b) orchestrated the ongoing gerrymandering of Alaska's election districts, and
c) has eliminated significant groups of Alaskans from his "Choose Respect" campaign.
It's time for a major change. Send Sean Parnell back to full time employment with the oil companies.
Bill Walker will ALWAYS put Alaskans first in every decision he'll make as our governor ... he's one of us!
Lance Roberts April 25th 2:43 P.M. (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner) Note that Roberts is a Republican who serves on the Fairbanks-North Star Borough Assembly:
Bill Walker thinks it's ok to spend public money electioneering.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.