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AFN, BSNC Endorse Begich, Walker/Mallot ‘Unity’ Ticket

A crowd of AFN attendees wave signs supporting the Walker/Mallott campaign ahead of the official AFN endorsement. Photo: Matthew F. Smith

On the final day of the 2014 Alaska Federation of Natives convention, the organization made several official endorsements for candidates and ballot issues set to go before voters during the November election.

AFN officially endorsed the “unity” ticket—gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker and running mate Byron Mallott—Saturday afternoon.

The pair merged their campaigns back in September, when Walker, at the time a Republican running as an independent, agreed to combine with then-Democratic candidate Mallott. The agreement saw Walker drop any Republican party affiliation, while the Democratic party agreed not to run a candidate against the “unity” ticket.

AFN also announced endorsements of Democratic incumbent Mark Begich in the U.S. Senate race against Republican challenger Dan Sullivan.

The endorsements came after the convention approved a slate of 50 resolutions, ranging from subsistence to energy to education issues. Those resolutions also included a measure formally opposing Ballot Measure 2, the initiative that would legalize the growth, sale, and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

AFN’s board did not take any formal stance on Ballot Measures 3 or 4, which deal with raising the state’s minimum wage and limiting development of mining resources near Bristol Bay, respectively.

In recent years, AFN has shied away from endorsing candidates, but the federation’s endorsement of Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski was pivotal in her 2010 write-in bid, after she lost the state’s Republican primary to Fairbanks lawyer Joe Miller.

The AFN endorsement was made behind closed doors, open to only a few delegates from across the state.

Independently, and some time before the AFN endorsement, Bering Straits Native Corporation spokesperson Miriam Aarons said BSNC had also endorsed the Walker/Mallot unity ticket, as well as Begich’s re-election.

While AFN did not endorse either candidate in the U.S. House race between Don Young and Forrest Dunbar, Aarons said BSNC has chosen to endorse Young.

Alaska’s general election is Tuesday, Nov. 4.