Independent Gov. Bill Walker and Democratic candidate for governor Mark Begich answered a question Tuesday about how they’re competing for the same voters. The exchange occurred at the Get Out the Native Vote forum for candidates for governor in Juneau.
Juneau Rep. Sam Kito III read the question from a member of the audience. Republican candidate Mike Dunleavy wasn’t there.
“Please address the fact that there are two candidate vying for the same pool of votes,” Kito read. “Has a compromise been discussed to ensure that no-show Dunleavy does not win by default of vote splitting? And I’m just reading a question provided by the audience.”
Begich, a former U.S. senator, said the candidates must earn every vote. He said the voters will have a choice about who can win and who has the best plan of action for the state.
“What’s so great about election is you – it’s in your hands,” Begich said. “It’s not in ours. It’s in yours. I think whoever gets to 38 or so percent wins this race.”
Walker said he built a cabinet that drew from the entire state because he didn’t discriminate based on partisan affiliation. He said the cabinet spent the first term addressing the state’s budget crisis.
“You know we have wrestled with the fiscal issue, but we wrestled it to the ground,” Walker said. “We stayed here; we didn’t quit. We showed up and we did the hard work.”
Walker said he’s angry that Dunleavy didn’t attend.
“That’s very disrespectful,” Walker said. “Neither he nor his lieutenant governor (candidate Kevin Meyer) had the courtesy of attending today. I’m embarrassed as an Alaskan that we have somebody running for this office who will not show up in this room.”
Asked for a reaction, Dunleavy emailed a statement:
“Bill Walker should be more embarrassed by his failed record of a weak economy, vetoed PFDs, and skyrocketing crime than by my campaign schedule.
I lived in rural Alaska for 19 years with Alaska Native people. It’s where I met my wife, Rose, of 31 years and where our three daughters were born.
From a horrific public safety record, to dismal educational outcomes, to low employment and the theft of PFDs, Bill Walker has failed rural Alaska.”
Dunleavy’s campaign said he had multiple meetings in Anchorage Tuesday.
Libertarian candidate Billy Toien slapped his campaign bumper sticker over Dunleavy’s nameplate. Toien, a hotel concierge, said he doesn’t have a problem with vote splitting.
“I think it’s all about voting your conscience,” Toein said. “It isn’t about who is or isn’t running. Win, lose or draw, if everybody decided to throw their vote away by voting for me, I would win.”
Dunleavy did attend a candidate forum at the Anchorage Aviation Museum on Monday.