Walker goes Independent and Wielechowski takes his time

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker is now Independent candidate Bill Walker. Walker thinks that he’ll have an easier time bypassing the primary and challenging Parnell as an Independent, and he’s likely right.

Parnell’s numbers are strong. A recent poll conducted by local pollster Marc Hellenthal shows Parnell’s approval rating is 57 percent positive and 26 percent negative.

Where Parnell could be vulnerable is on oil taxes. Hellenthal said that his poll showed that roughly as many people would vote for a candidate who would support repeal of the oil tax bill than a candidate who wouldn’t support repeal. However, 22 percent are undecided.

That’s a lot of undecided voters and a big opportunity to change some minds. And the next legislative session will likely provide that opportunity. Because of the tax break, the state will likely be facing a deficit. Oil production will not have increased, and the opportunities for talking points and great campaign ads will be numerous, on both sides of the issue.

Because Walker has been more focused on issues surrounding a natural gas pipeline than on oil taxes and has never fully embraced the repeal crowd, there’s also room for a Dem in the race to take on that issue. Both Democratic Sens. Bill Wielechowski and Hollis French are considering a run. Wielechowski, whose seat isn’t up, has less to lose than does French. However, French has a strong challenger in Rep. Mia Costello. And he can only run in one race.

Wielechowski, apparently not an Andrew Marvell disciple, said that “there’s plenty of time.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com