Alaska governor: Work with Murkowski endures after Trump nod

Jan 20, 2022, 5:34 PM | Updated: 7:27 pm

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy said he doesn’t see his acceptance of former President Donald Trump’s endorsement as hurting his relationship with the state’s senior U.S. senator, Republican Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict Trump at his impeachment trial last year and whose reelection bid Trump has vowed to fight.

Trump last month praised Dunleavy as a “strong and consistent conservative” and offered his endorsement, provided that Dunleavy does not endorse Murkowski. Asked if Dunleavy planned to endorse anyone in the Senate race, Andrew Jensen, a campaign spokesperson, said Thursday he could “simply reiterate the governor’s position on this, which is that he appreciates the support of President Trump and all the things he did and tried to do for Alaska, and that he is focused on his own race.”

Both Dunleavy and Murkowski face reelection this year. Trump has endorsed Republican Kelly Tshibaka, a former Department of Administration commissioner under Dunleavy, in the U.S. Senate race.

Dunleavy told The Associated Press on Thursday that he and Trump had a “very good relationship,” which he contrasted with the Biden administration. Dunleavy and members of Alaska’s Republican congressional delegation have been at odds with the current administration over issues such as resource development, and they welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of an administration push to require employees at large businesses to get a COVID-19 vaccine or test regularly.

Dunleavy said he doesn’t see there being a change in dynamic between him and Murkowski.

“Not from my perspective,” he said. Dunleavy said he will continue working with the delegation on issues affecting Alaska’s interests. “I will work with anybody, anywhere, anytime with regards to Alaska.”

Dunleavy, in a wide-ranging interview, also defended the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink. He and Zink have been among the most visible public faces of the state’s COVID-19 response.

Dunleavy was criticized for not issuing a statewide mask mandate during the pandemic and for not taking as strong a position on vaccinations as some wanted; Dunleavy, who tested positive for COVID-19 last February and was vaccinated later, has said that vaccination is a personal decision.

On the other side, some have accused him of pushing vaccines. Alaska led states early on in making vaccines widely accessible. Dunleavy has also been questioned about his issuance of a series of pandemic-related disaster declarations that ended last February.

A Dunleavy spokesperson in July said the governor’s vaccination “was a private decision, which is what he has always advocated for in dealing with this virus.”

Zink, who regularly appears in public forums to discuss COVID-19 and take questions, is among the state health officials who have encouraged vaccination and measures such as wearing masks and testing. Some, including Republican Rep. Christopher Kurka, who is running for governor, have called for Zink to be fired, citing in part her support of vaccines.

When asked if Zink had done anything that would require her to be fired, Dunleavy said, “No.”

He said the pandemic has become politicized. People also are tired of the coronavirus and want to put it behind them, he said. “I think there are faces — mine, Dr. Zink’s, other governors’, other health folks’ — that in some respects people are tired of listening to, tired of looking at,” he said. “You’re going to see candidates … come up with all kinds of attempts to leverage votes and get an advantage.”

Asked if he stood by Zink, he said: “I think I just said that.”

The administration plans to propose for the legislative session that began Tuesday changes in law to address things such as repeated violations of protective orders and an expansion of the crimes considered to be domestic violence in a state where such violence is a scourge. The administration has also proposed an election-related bill that touches on issues such as establishing an online system for tracking absentee ballots and identifies state and federal records and data sources that could be used by election officials in reviewing and updating voter lists.

The bill calls for biennial audits of registered voter lists “in consultation with an external, nationally recognized subject-matter expert” selected by the Division of Elections.

Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, a Republican, announced last month he would not seek reelection and would instead focus on his work overseeing elections, including the use of a new system that includes open primaries and ranked choice voting in general elections. That system, narrowly approved by voters in 2020, was upheld by the Alaska Supreme Court on Wednesday.

“I need to be impartial so I can meet these challenges head-on, without any appearance of bias or conflict. I think that’s extremely important as far as voter trust and confidence in our election process,” Meyer said in announcing his plans.

Dunleavy has not announced a new running mate.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - In this July 22, 2015, file photo, Corrine Brown, D-Fla., speaks at a hearing on Capitol Hil...
Associated Press

Former US Rep. Corrine Brown pleads guilty in fraud case

A criminal case against former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, one of the first Black representatives elected to Congress from Florida after Reconstruction, ended Wednesday with her guilty plea to a tax charge in a charity fraud case. Brown, 75, had been convicted before in 2017 of 18 counts and served more than two years of […]
12 hours ago
FILE- A memorial honors Sierra Jenkins, an education reporter for The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Pre...
Associated Press

Police: Man charged in fatal shooting outside Virginia bar

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man has been charged in a March shooting that killed a newspaper reporter and two other young bystanders when a fight broke out at closing time outside a Norfolk bar, police announced Wednesday. One of the victims was Sierra Jenkins, 25, of Norfolk, a reporter for the region’s daily […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Top US and Pakistan diplomats say they want stronger ties

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met for the first time Wednesday and both said they want to strengthen ties between the two countries. Bhutto Zardari flew to New York to attend a ministerial meeting at U.N. headquarters called by the United States […]
12 hours ago
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs the Parental Rights in Education bill at Classical Preparatory scho...
Associated Press

Gay student says school stopping run for student leadership

BUNNELL, Fla. (AP) — A 17-year-old gay student who was suspended for leading protests at his high school against Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay legislation says school administrators are now stopping him from running for senior class president. Because of the disciplinary infractions he received for leading the protests at Flagler Palm Coast High School […]
12 hours ago
These May 12, 2022, photos of a Wanted poster provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ...
Associated Press

Texas inmate who escaped bus got out of restraints, cage

CENTERVILLE, Texas (AP) — A convicted murderer who escaped from a transport bus last week got out of his restraints and a caged area before stabbing the driver, and he is still on the run Wednesday, authorities said. Gonzalo Lopez, 46, who was serving a life sentence, was being transported to a medical appointment on […]
12 hours ago
FILE - Then-New York Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks in Times Square on April 12, 2021, in Ne...
Associated Press

Former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio exploring run for US House

NEW YORK (AP) — Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he’s considering a run for Congress after a legal battle over the state’s political maps opened up a seat in Brooklyn. The two-term Democrat, who left office at the end of 2021, said Wednesday that he’s formed an exploratory committee for New […]
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
Dr. Richard Carmona

Have you gotten your booster shot?

Do you remember when you got your last COVID-19 vaccination? If it has been more than five months since you completed your primary vaccination series, it’s time for you to get your booster. You may be eligible even sooner depending which vaccine you received. If you are over the age of 50 and received your […]

In Sonoran heat, prevent costly AC repairs with an annual tune-up

As winter has finally passed and the days are becoming warmer, now is a good time to be sure your AC unit is polished and ready to run.
Alaska governor: Work with Murkowski endures after Trump nod