Former U.S. Senator Mark Begich, right, directs a question at former state Senate Mike Dunleavy, left, as Gov. Bill Walker listens during a Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon debate at Centennial Hall on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Former U.S. Senator Mark Begich, right, directs a question at former state Senate Mike Dunleavy, left, as Gov. Bill Walker listens during a Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon debate at Centennial Hall on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Opinion: I like Mike, but I’m not endorsing him for governor

I like Mike Dunleavy. I’ve considered him a friend. But Dunleavy for Alaska is running an ad that makes it seem I’m supporting him. I mean, really, who cares about my endorsement? But they never asked my permission and I’ve asked them to take it down. They’ve refused. And now they’ve doubled down and bizarrely started photo shopping images of Dunleavy and I together to further imply my support. These advertisements indicate that Dunleavy for Alaska has an alarming lack of regard for the truth and seeks to mislead and deceive Alaskan voters. It also evidences a shocking willingness to disregard basic common courtesy.

I’ve endorsed Mark Begich. Why is that? Well, while Dunleavy and I agree on a few things, we disagree on way more. I disagreed with him when he tried to kill Bree’s Law. I disagreed with him when voted to cut tens of millions from public safety. When he voted to cut prosecutors – which led to 7,000 criminals being set free because we didn’t have the resources to prosecute them. When he voted against Troopers. When he voted against increased domestic violence funding. When he voted against sexual assault funding. When he voted against substance abuse treatment. When he voted against education funding.

I disagreed with Dunleavy when he was on the Finance Committee yet supported massive deficits and completely failed to even try to balance the budget. I disagreed with Dunleavy when he voted to give billions in unaffordable tax breaks, tax deductions and tax credits to the oil industry – while Alaska remains the most profitable place in the world to do business.

I disagreed with Dunleavy when he voted against our efforts to cut $4.4 million for new tennis courts in Anchorage while we had multi-billion deficits. When he voted against our efforts to cut millions for a new unnecessary Anchorage legislative office. I disagreed with him when he voted against our efforts to cut $100,000 for a consultant to select office furniture for the new legislative office. I disagreed with him when he opposed our efforts to cut state gasline executive salary increases.

And while Dunleavy eventually did come around to supporting the PFD, the fact remains that had he stood up in the first place when the PFD was being cut, we wouldn’t be in this situation. In 2016 he and every Republican in the state Senate had a chance to overturn Gov. Bill Walker’s veto of the PFD. They all voted no. In 2017, he and every Republican in the Senate had a chance to restore the 2016 PFD and pay a full 2017 PFD. They all voted no — six times. In 2014, Dunleavy and every Senate Republican had a chance to add additional funds to the Permanent Fund. They all voted no. In 2016, Dunleavy voted against inflation-proofing the Permanent Fund. Heck, he held a big press conference in front of the Muldoon Fred Meyer and announced he was going to introduce a bill to restore the vetoed PFD, then actually voted against his own bill and quietly withdrew it. And while Dunleavy now claims he supports putting the PFD into the Alaska Constitution, he failed to co-sponsor bills that I filed every year to do exactly that — despite many asking him to do so. And then he refused to vote “Do Pass” on my bill to put the PFD in the Constitution when it came to his committee.

So while I like Dunleavy, and I hadn’t planned on pointing any of this out, the unscrupulous attempts by Dunleavy for Alaska to make it seem that I’m endorsing him really give me no other option.


• Sen. Bill Wielechowski has served in the Alaska State Senate since 2007. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


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