JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker announced his running mate on Monday: former deputy Fish and Game commissioner Craig Fleener.
Fleener was introduced at a news conference in Fairbanks, just days after tendering his resignation. Both men plan to run as independent candidates and must gather just over 3,000 signatures each to qualify for the 2014 general election ballot.
Fleener, 46, who was joined by members of his family, said he is running to help bring all Alaska voices together. According to biographical information released by the campaign, Fleener was involved in wildlife and subsistence management issues while serving as deputy commissioner. He is a former Alaska Board of Game member and has worked for the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments. He served in the Marine Corps and currently holds the rank of major in the Alaska Air National Guard.
He used words like husband, father, Christian, biologist, warrior and problem solver to describe himself. He said Alaska's best days are ahead.
Fleener resigned effective last week, after he said he decided to run. While issues like subsistence and wildlife management are often contentious in Alaska, Fleener said he has no "ax to grind" with the current administration and appreciated the opportunities he had at Fish and Game.
Walker, an attorney and former Valdez mayor, is best known for his ideas on oil and gas issues, including his advocacy for an all-Alaska natural gas pipeline. Fleener, who has lived in Anchorage for the last five years, said he believes he has a lot to share on such things as fish and game, Arctic and veterans issues.
Republican Gov. Sean Parnell has announced plans to seek re-election, and Alaska Native leader Byron Mallott plans to officially launch his Democratic gubernatorial candidacy on Tuesday.