Aug. 21 is the primary election and Alaskans, particularly Independents and Republics, have a hard choice in front of them.
Mark Begich will win the Democratic primary and advance to the general election in November.
Incumbent Gov. Bill Walker is running as an independent and has no primary. He advances to November.
There are several candidates in the Republican primary but only two — Mead Treadwell and Mike Dunleavy — have a chance. Current polls show Dunleavy winning, with Treadwell gaining ground.
Is Dunleavy the right choice to run against Begich and Walker in November?
Mark Begich will get the die-hard Democrats and potentially some moderate D’s. He has said he will restore the Permeant Fund Dividend.
Walker will get most of the “union” vote, a large chunk of the Independent moderate vote and some of the Republicans and Democrats who crossed over four years ago to support him.
Dunleavy can count on the hard-right Republicans in both elections. It is unlikely he will attract a lot of Independents or moderates of either party. His big campaign push is to restore the PFD. Begich promised the same, Walker’s supporters seem to agree with him that cutting the dividend was necessary.
Begich and Walker have done very little campaigning so far this season. Both are, paraphrasing Mark Begich, “Keeping their powder dry.” If Dunleavy wins the primary, these two will likely attack him within days mentioning his quitting the Senate (to run for governor, then suspending and restarting his campaign). Though all major candidates have gotten the maximum allowable contributions to their official campaigns from out of state people ($20,000), Begich and Walker are likely to make a big deal about Francis Dunleavy who lives in Texas bankrolling a PAC/IE to support Dunleavy. I’m sure they will find additional issues with which to attack him.
Treadwell is the other major candidate in the Republican primary. Should Treadwell emerge as the Republican nominee he will be able to pull together a much larger block of general election voters. He appeals to longtime Republicans, is considered moderate thus will be able to pull votes that would otherwise go to Walker. Like Dunleavy, he has said he wants to restore the “full PFD” thus drawing on the same base Dunleavy would if he is the nominee. Treadwell has been a public figure for years, it’s unlikely any “new dirt” could be flung at him in the general election. Some people have said Treadwell is responsible for Walker being the current governor, as Treadwell “certified” the so called “Unity Ticket.” These people claim that in certifying the ticket he broke the law; he didn’t break the law as his decision was upheld by state courts.
Treadwell has had success as a business man, bringing new companies and technologies to market, raising investment capital to fund other new projects all while meeting payroll. He has developed strong relationships in our nation’s capital that will prove beneficial in helping the state move forward on safe new projects and could even help Alaska Native Corporations get the land they were promised in Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
Treadwell can defeat both Walker and Begich in the general election. As such he is the best choice in the Republican primary.
• Michael Jesperson resides in Anchorage.