Walker and Gara band together in Alaska governor’s race with a joint ad against Dunleavy

Photographs of a white woman and a multiracial woman side by side.
In a new joint ad, Heidi Drygas and Jessica Cook, lieutenant governor candidates running with independent Bill Walker and Democrat Les Gara, respectively, make a pitch to voters against incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy. (Screenshot)

Gubernatorial candidates Bill Walker and Les Gara took the unusual step Friday of releasing a joint online advertisement against their Republican opponent, incumbent governor Mike Dunleavy. Walker, an independent, and Gara, a Democrat, have both said they are running to unseat Dunleavy. 

The ad, featuring Walker’s running mate Heidi Drygas, and Gara’s running mate Jessica Cook, says both campaigns would rather the other side win, than elect Dunleavy.

“We’re uniting because our teams agree – Alaska can’t afford four more years of Mike Dunleavy,” Drygas says in the ad.

Both lieutenant governor candidates reference cuts to state services under Dunleavy’s administration and the governor’s opposition to abortion rights.

In a ranked choice election, both the Walker and Gara campaigns say they are relying on each other’s second place votes to win. Together, they made up about 46% of the primary election vote

“So, whether you support Team Gara/Cook or Team Walker/Drygas, we urge you to rank the other team second,” the candidates say in the ad.

“With ranked choice voting, it’s going to take all of our votes to beat Dunleavy,” Cook says.

The joint ad comes days after a shake-up in the governor’s race. A former executive assistant filed a lawsuit against the fourth candidate, Republican Charlie Pierce, alleging he sexually harassed her. A few days later, Pierce’s running mate Edie Grunwald dropped out of the race.

In response, Dunleavy’s campaign released a statement saying his ticket is voters’ only viable option. 

Both the Walker and Gara campaigns say they see paths to victory through the ranked choice system. They say they are not concerned about the possibility Dunleavy could win outright with more than 50% of the vote.

Find more election coverage and voter resources at alaskapublic.org/elections.

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Kavitha George is the host of Alaska Morning News at Alaska Public Media. She also reports on business, labor and the economy. Reach her at kgeorge@alaskapublic.org.