A reader’s account of the Juneau debate between Parnell and Walker

You can read straight news stories about the debate between Gov. Sean Parnell and “unity” candidate Bill Walker here, and here, This account, from a reader, who obviously favors Gov. Sean Parnell, is also interesting:

Fun debate in Juneau today. Parnell has an improved style, and he certainly won the day.  Walker sometimes seemed confused…. The audience, about 250 people, were much more with Parnell.  No bombs were dropped.  Nothing shocking was revealed….Parnell quoted Walker from some Sept. 5 radio show in which Walker is to have said he would cut 16% – $224 million from personal services costs – the first year in office.  Parnell asked where Walker would make the cuts  to achieve that level of reduction.

Walker answered, “I will ask the departments to work smarter.” That doesn’t answer the question for me.

Both candidates are voting for the minimum wage increase and against the marijuana legalization, and they gave reasons that revealed no differences between the candidates. Both candidates favored keeping the capital in Juneau but Walker went a little further and said he would require all commissioners to live in Juneau, and the audience liked that.  Parnell favors building the road to Skagway but Walker said he would have to look at the road along with all other budget requests, and it was a strongly pro-road audience.  Walker seemed to expect the crowd to be very much with him when he criticized the new legislative offices in Anchorage, and he took two runs at that but the crowd didn’t respond.  Walker was unfamiliar with the term Alaska Class Ferry so he flubbed a question about supporting those new boats to be built in Ketchikan.

Regarding the Walker-Mallott ticket, at different times during the debate Walker said: “Byron will be a senior advisor to me.”  “There will be an office in the governor’s office for the lt. gov.”  “We will have an incredible relationship.”  “He will be guarding the seal etc.”  “I will be making the decisions as the governor.”

Parnell asked Walker, “Would the 16% cut apply to Medicaid and education.”  Walker said, “Yes, that has to be on the table.  We have to put it on the table to see where to make adjustments.”

Each candidate was asked who he is voting for in the US Senate race.  Parnell said Dan Sullivan.  Walker would not say.

Walker arrived in a specially decorated van driven by local attorney Joe Geldhof…


17 thoughts on “A reader’s account of the Juneau debate between Parnell and Walker

  1. Anonymous

    Yes Amanda please ask walker these tough questions on his exact plan for the pipeline and ask in person to
    Mallot where their so called unity ticket stands on pro-life, gay marriage issues. Then go ask bill seperately. You report exactly what is said. I can’t wait to laugh. Also can some one please notice that on the walker website there is NO indication of their views on pro life and gay marriage anywhere in their issues. Do they really think they are going to get away with just simply leaving these issues off their page???! Unbelievable

  2. John Smith

    Unless the state of Alaska owns an oil and gas production company, then we will never be totally in control. It is a simple fact and too often is over-thought in our state. The “they need us more than we need them” mentality of Walker and others like him, could lead to some serious problems in the future when it comes to forming partnerships with producers interested in doing business in our state.

  3. John Smith

    Please give me the name of the oil and gas production company that the State of Alaska owns and operates. We don’t. We are not producers. In order for your analogy and Walker’s position to work, we would have to be in the oil and gas production business, unless you believe that we should own a production company. Is that what you are advocating? Either way, that analogy is full of flaws and lacks basic understanding of the relationship between the state and producers.

  4. Michele


    I agree wholeheartedly and I am equally disturbed by his blanket statements with no plan. Nothing he says is substantive. And, since he’s been saying the same thing throughout his campaign, it tells me he hasn’t even done his homework to catch up to speed in between sound bites so that he can have something substantive to say and provide a detailed plan. I, personally think he is too lazy to study the issues and come up with a thoughtful plan. He’s a pawn of the dems and he just repeats the same mesmerizing mantra over and over. “Horrified about the budget…everything’s on the table to be cut…we’ll look at all of the options for the gas line…I’ll be the governor, but Mallot will be my senior advisor and next door neighbor in the governor’s office.” None of that makes sense to a logical mind. How can he be the decision maker, yet, lend his ear so easily to a man whose political positions and policies are so diametrically opposed to his? Unless he is willing to sell those to get elected? Unless he doesn’t really have the personal, political or moral convictions he says he espouses so strongly but will put aside? Unless he has no commitment to anything or anyone?

    What is most disturbing is that, to my knowledge, no journalist, including Amanda, has held his feet to the fire and grilled him on the specifics of any of his strategies and plans, let alone the dubious and deceitful way he made backdoor deals with the dems to undermine the voters and the democratic election process and alienate his friends. Even his non-answer about who he supports for the U.S. Sentate seat shows his lack of commitment, lack of chutzpah, lack of substantive dialogue, whatever it is that keeps him so lukewarm. He is running his campaign much like Obama ran his and to some extent, how Begich is running his (in terms of the way they both are silent on some issues and avoid taking positions). Walker won’t take a position or come up with a policy because he doesn’t want to be held to anything. He just wants to be elected.

    Gov. Parnell, by stark contrast, loves the state of Alaska and its people and he has detailed plans. He asked good questions of Walker. Walker has no answers. He showed up the to exam without reading the text or doing his homework. It’s embarrassing and laughable. Only a fool would vote for this guy. He has nothing to offer. But, more than that, he sold his soul to the dems and threw his friend, his so-called deeply held convictions — and more importantly, the voters — under the bus, just to try to maximize his chances of winning. He doesn’t want what is best for Alaska. He wants to win at all cost.

    Someone, anyone, Amanda: ask Walker these tough questions. That’s your job.

  5. Jon K

    Lynn, SB 138 was subjected to hundreds of hours of public debate and testimony. The legislature hired three groups of experts. The administration had its own. A ton of people testified before many committees. I’m not sure why this constitutes minimal public scrutiny in your estimation. Few pieces of legislation receive this much scrutiny. Moreover, the legislation had many skeptics across the spectrum – from Garran Tarr to Les Gara to Mike Hawker. And yet it got 52 votes, which was remarkable.

    Regarding kitimat: yes projects don’t make it through the process. That project is burdened by First Nations issues – aboriginal land claims haven been resolved in BC. But just as you can point to project failures or project delays there are mega projects moving forward in Australia and the GOM. The question is what can we do as a state to make this project competitive? What can we do to increase the probability of of success? Parnell has given us his answer. I have no idea what Walker’s is. So I’ll as again: Do you?

  6. CPG49

    Walker’s debate performance was, let’s just say, underwhelming. He clearly knows little about anything outside of the gas pipeline. And, even that’s questionable. What also scares me is the Palin crowd that hovers around Walker. A Walker administration woild be like back to the future. Remember Palin? She took over, stopped negotiations like Walker is proposing and all that did was cost the state hundreds of millions and years of delay. No thanks, Mr. Walker.

  7. Lynn Willis

    We both understand nothing is truly a sure thing, yet you are willing to spend hundreds of millions of precious state dollars on a gas line project which was vetted by a minimal legislative process in the last session of the legislature and rushed to passage (just in time to become an election promise I might add). I have pointed out to you what has stalled the Kitimat gas line project which is much further toward development than AKLNG with only two corporate partners (Chevron and Apache Oil& Gas) and now one of the two partners (Apache) is unable to proceed. We have five partners in AKLNG (Exxon, Conoco, BP, TransCanada, and the State of Alaska) which means the Alaska State Legislature upon whom I wouldn’t bet could remain “aligned” for more than a 90 day session let alone an election cycle.
    So Parnell’s budget plan is worthy and above scrutiny even though it doesn’t stop, with any degree of certainly, the current deficit spending nor replace the dollars spent from the CBR or SBR; however, Walker had better be specific today without access to the resources Parnell has had at his disposal for five years or Walker’s ideas are to be totally suspect.

  8. Jon K

    Lynn, I never said Ak LNG is a sure thing. I would also suggest that you learn more about the stage gated process – we will not sanction this project and start spending the billions required until we have gas sales contracts in place that justify the state’s expenditures.

    Contrast this to Walket’s apparent approach which is to take “control”of the project and apparently start building it without a realistic cost estimate and without permits – after all study hall is over baby! Or so Walker says. Talk about reckless!

    Parnell has a budget plan. I never said it would stop the bleeding but at least Alaskans know what he will do.

    But you keep evading the issue: what is Walker’s plan on either of these topics? Still waiting. How are to evaluate Walker if he cannot provide some specifics on his core campaign promises? Are we supposed to just trust him?

  9. Stockholder

    Jon asks an important question below- and the answer will make it clear why thoughtful Alaskans will be voting for Bill Walker. There is a key difference between Walker and Parnell.

    Imagine that the CEO of Home Depot grants the CEO of Lowes the authority to determine when, and if, Home Depot ever gets another new store built.

    A smart person would say this is stupid. Why would Home Depot want their competitor, Lowes, to decide when a new Home Depot store gets built. Lowes would never let Home Depot have a new store. What a huge advantage Lowes would have!

    And that, Jon, is the difference between Walker and Parnell. Walker thinks our competition should not decide when a gas line gets built. Parnell thinks its just peachy if Exxon makes that decision. Does Parnell not care that Exxon has many LNG projects that compete with Alaska? Or is he corrupt? Or mad?

    Bill Walker brought the markets to Alaska- more than once. Our customers told us what they wanted- gas by 2019 with a pipeline system not controlled by the majors. Parnell sabotaged that effort, and that is why Alaskans need to fire Sean Parnell.

  10. Lynn Willis

    My problem is the risk to Alaskans of being an equity partner. You should have no right to place my kid’s future at risk as an equity partner in any venture. You and others are so “risk tolerant” with my children’s savings. How about we test your thesis by allowing all of you who think this AKLNG is now such a “sure thing” at this point that you are now willing to immediately place your future PFD payments (until they disappear to pay for state spending) into this AKLNG project for a guaranteed return on your investment or you lose it all.
    Jon, point me to where I can find Parnell’s detailed fiscal plan that will not only stop the bleeding but replace the cash spent from the CBR and SBR especially in light of the massive projected charges against UGFR from the AKLNG project. Parnell has no fiscal plan any more than does a desperate citizen attempting to make minimum payments on an overdue credit card balance using a different credit card.

  11. Jon K


    We know about Parnell’s plans for AK LNG because we can read SB 138 and the executed contracts. We also have three websites providing a TON of details about the project – one run by AK LNG, one by the state, and one by Larry Persily’s shop. Persily’s office has done a fantastic job about getting facts out by the way. In any event, AK LNG is Parnell’s plan. Thus I don’t ask questions about it.

    Similarly, Parnell has issued a fiscal plan. And we know what his budgets look like. We know what he prioritizes because we can read the OMB’s website and see what he will do in the future and look at what he has done in the past.

    Bottom line: this isn’t a double standard. I just want something beyond cheap slogans from Walker. I would expect you would too. Does saying “everything is on the table” honestly answer your questions about how Walker is going to deal with the deficits which “horrify” him? What kind of politician runs for office, says he is “horrified” by something and cannot provide ANY specifics? All I have heard Walker say is how he will expand the government – on the gas line, on medicaid, on education. He hasn’t been consistent on these things, so it is unclear what he will do. In any event, the lack of detail is troubling.

  12. Lynn Willis

    You asked me to listen to the hearing yesterday before both House and Senate Resources. What I did hear certainly didn’t support either of these candidates plans when the AKLNG project officer had serious reservations about this brand new concept of a individual State of the United States being an equity partner in a project of this size described by the AKLNG co-coordinator as a “Giga Project”. Apparenlty an individual state of the union is much different than an individual sovereign nation. For example the nations of Norway or Australia did not (and do not) have to gain permission from say the United Nations to do anything while Alaska has to subordinate itself to the Government of the United States while participating. For example, I will be most interested in seeing how the IRS views our “profits” as an equity partner. I was also impressed when a legislator pointed out the transitory nature of any legislative body and the office of Governor. This legislator understands that following any election any elected official is subject to be a “player” one day and a spectator the next. Ask Eric Feige (who lost in the primary) how influential he will be during the next legislative session. That hardly assures “unity” among the partners. Also, the dual objectives of the State was broached which includes maximizing profit but not being like Australia and pricing the local inhabitants out of the market.
    On the budget I am seeing a new pro-Parnell strategy emerging which you are now utilizing. You want detailed plans from Walker to return to fiscal sanity yet demand no such information from Parnell. I feel both of them need to address this issue and I will point out that an established record of fiscal irresponsibility is, to me, much more damaging than not having a specific resolution; however, I do want to hear that plan and appreciate and share your concern.

  13. crystalwolf

    It has been explained to me by a Alaskan about the LNG. (He’s free to jump in and clarify) that there have been plans in place since the original pipeline was built. These plans, the rights are secured right next to the oil pipeline and is practically built,(on paper that is) except that no gov in 30 odd years will sign on the dotted line, for boots on the ground to get it going…. I’m prob not telling it exactly correct but this is how I understand it. There was a committee working on it a few years back…

  14. crystalwolf

    I can’t believe how you guys are voting in Sarah Palin again?
    Opps silly me SP v. 2.0!
    You do realize she is still running the show, with him at the helm don’t you?
    Don’t you?

  15. Straitlaced Radical

    Thank you for sharing this account. It gives a perspective that the “straight news” don’t. Also makes me wonder if the general anti-Parnell bias in the media has anything to do with the relative lack of coverage. If the account provided is anywhere close to accurate in terms of Parnell’s strength in the debate, no wonder we don’t hear much. If the shoe was on the other foot, I’m sure I would read all sorts of accounts of how Walker ran away with it.

    And ditto to much of what Jon K asked.

  16. Jon K

    Can someone supporting Walker please explain why this man cannot provide specifics on his two biggest priorities: deficits and the gas line / LNG project? I’m not trying to be snarky, but the guy doesn’t appear to have any details or anything meaningful to say about these issues.

    On the budget, he says “everything is on the table” including Medicaid and education, which contradicts his earlier statements that he is going to expand Medicaid and fully fund education. Anyway, Walker says the deficits “horrify him” and yet all he can say is that everything is on the table? Seriously?

    On gas issues, which is something Walker has written about for years, we don’t have any specifics. According to Becky Bohrer’s article, “Walker said the flaw in the [Governor’s] plan is that the state is not in control. He said a project — long-hoped for in the state — needs to be finished on the state’s timeline, not that of companies with competing projects around the world.” What does this mean? But more importantly, how will Walker accomplish this goal? How do we get in “control”? What does this cost? How will he accelerate the timeline? What is his timeline? Will he seek to modify the existing legislation? Terminate our existing contracts with Exxon, BP, Conoco, and TransCanada? What?

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