In this busy election season, the campaign for Governor of Alaska deserves some special attention. The hapless incumbent Governor, Bill Walker, who was elected without a partisan affiliation in 2014, seems likely to come in third in his effort to win another term. He lags behind both a Democrat and a Republican — Mark Begich and Mike Dunleavy, respectively.
There are a lot of reasons for discontent with the status quo in Alaska. It is the state with the country’s highest unemployment rate, and it has a continuing budget crisis fueled by weak oil and gas prices.
The bearish O&G market has hurt the Alaska Permanent Fund, a dividend paid to Alaska’s permanent residents from oil revenues. The size of that dividend was sharply reduced in each of the last two years by legislative action.
On another policy front, US News ranks the state last in access to health care.
The Thing to Know:
The latest poll numbers put Dunleavy in the lead with 44% of the state naming him as their preference. Begich comes in with 29%, Walker with just 22.9%, the remainder undecided.