Alaska AFL-CIO endorses Begich after Walker suspends campaign

Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Betrami talks about unions’ endorsement of Mark Begich at the federation’s Anchorage office on Monday. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO and Alaska Public Media)

Alaska’s largest labor federation announced Monday that it’s endorsing Mark Begich, the Democratic candidate for governor. The Alaska AFL-CIO leadership made the decision Sunday, two days after its first choice, independent Gov. Bill Walker, suspended his campaign and endorsed Begich.

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Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami said labor leaders on a conference call unanimously supported Begich.

“Mark Begich has been a champion for working families throughout his entire career,” Beltrami said. “He’s always supported responsible resource development. He’s been a supporter of ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), worked tirelessly as a U.S. senator to get offshore drilling projects to be approved by the Obama administration.”

Beltrami noted that Republican candidate Mike Dunleavy didn’t attend the federation’s convention this year and didn’t return its questionnaire.

“A vote for Mike Dunleavy is to return us to the Stone Age,” Beltrami said. “A vote for Mark Begich and to support what Gov. Bill Walker wants – is what we need to do.”

Dunleavy responded in an emailed statement, saying “Begich’s allies might disagree. But most Alaskans believe paying a full PFD, sending criminals to jail and controlling state spending are common-sense solutions.”

Beltrami did say there was one issue where labor was closer to Dunleavy: both the AFL-CIO and Dunleavy oppose Ballot Measure 1, which is intended to increase protections of fish habitats. Begich supports the measure.