Begich, Walker/Mallot Are the Early Frontrunners for AFN Endorsement

Alaska’s largest Native organization will vote on candidate endorsements Saturday morning. The Alaska Federation of Natives Board of Directors has drafted two resolutions that will be heard on the final day of the AFN convention in Anchorage.

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The resolutions call for the re-­election of Sen. Mark Begich and the endorsement of Bill Walker for governor and Byron Mallott for lieutenant governor. Mallott is a former president of AFN.

Resolutions are typically decided with a voice vote. Roll call votes, however, are not unheard of. In that case, regional caucuses will discuss the resolution with their delegates and a caucus leader will then cast the vote on behalf of each group.

AFN’s co­chairs Tara Sweeney and Ana Hoffman are on opposite sides when it comes to the senate race. Sweeney is co­-chair for the Sullivan campaign. Hoffman has been actively involved in Begich’s campaign.

Sullivan made an unscheduled appearance during a Board of Directors executive session meeting Tuesday. He reportedly received a cool reception. Despite the preference for Begich, board members were urged by delegates to not make endorsements and instead draft resolutions for them to vote on.

The final list of resolutions includes several measures that in some form or another have been voted on at previous conventions. One resolution calls for stronger protection of tribal subsistence resources. Another asks for subsistence priority over commercial and sport use fishing and hunting.

Delegates will also vote Saturday on resolutions to oppose marijuana legalization, reduce chinook and chum salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery, and support juvenile justice reform during the 2015 legislative session.

Jennifer Canfield is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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