He’s running: Walker aims to be Alaska’s governor again

Then-Gov. Bill Walker in 2018 (Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Former Alaska Gov. Bill Walker announced Tuesday that he’s running for governor again.

Walker has teamed up with former state Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas, who is campaigning to be his lieutenant governor.

Walker will run as a nonpartisan. But, with Alaska’s new open primary, he will be head-to-head against Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the ballot next August. The top four candidates will advance to the general.

Walker said Alaskans feel the state is broken.

“It’s really a matter of, you know, fixing Alaska,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s about rebuilding trust, rebuilding relationships, so we can move out of this deficit we’ve been in since 2012.”

RELATED: Amid recall effort, lingering budget problems and pandemic, Alaska Gov. Dunleavy will seek re-election

Walker was governor from 2014 to 2018 and didn’t solve Alaska’s fiscal crisis. But he said he reduced the deficit from $4 billion to about $1 billion and got the Legislature to pass a bill setting guidelines on the use of Permanent Fund earnings to pay for government.

“We weren’t quite there yet. We ran out of time to close the last quarter of the deficit,” he said.

Walker ran for a second term in 2018. But he abruptly suspended his campaign soon after Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott resigned. Mallott stepped down amid reports that he made an “inappropriate overture” to a woman.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.

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