- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker said he welcomes Sarah Palin’s endorsement of him over her former lieutenant governor.

Palin made official her support for Walker in a Facebook post Saturday. Palin last week hosted a reception at her lakeside home north of Anchorage for Walker and Byron Mallott.

Walker, in a statement, said Palin “joins a long line of Alaskans from all political persuasions who are ready for a new direction for Alaska.”

Walker is challenging Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, who served as Palin’s lieutenant governor after Palin was elected governor in 2006.

Parnell took over for Palin as governor in 2009, when she resigned. He was elected in his own right in 2010, beating Walker in that year’s Republican gubernatorial primary.

Walker, whose party affiliation now is undeclared, and Mallott, a Democrat, joined forces after the primary to provide a stronger challenger to Parnell. Parnell is running with Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan as the lieutenant governor candidate.

Walker’s campaign last week said Palin supported them, but didn’t think that hosting a reception was a full-on endorsement.

That changed Saturday when Palin endorsed the ticket on her Facebook page, and noted other pressures that Parnell is under while there are investigations into sexual abuse and fraud within the Alaska National Guard.

“The ability to move us forward by empowering a thriving private sector takes unifying action. Too many long-awaited projects and challenges - like the National Guard scandal - are made worse because of indecisive leadership, and that’s debilitating,” Palin wrote. “We can’t afford to put development on the back burner while other states and nations surpass our opportunities, and we can’t sweep ethics problems under the table.”

“It will be interesting to see how Bill Walker backtracks this time on Sarah Palin’s endorsement considering just a few days ago he called it ‘not a full-on endorsement,’” said Luke Miller, a spokesman for Parnell’s campaign. The Parnell camp has tried to paint Walker as backtracking on various positions in his bid to win.

Palin also praised Walker and Mallott for setting aside political ambitions to form the so-called unity ticket.

“This is rarely done in politics and proves that this strong independent ticket represents an Alaskan-sized heart, putting people over party machine politics and Alaskans over egos,” she wrote.

Palin’s signature piece of legislation while in office was a tax system that oil companies complained ate too deeply into profits at higher prices, discouraging investment. The oil tax system, ushered in with help from Democrats, helped provide a multibillion-dollar cushion for state government, which relies almost entirely on oil revenue to run.

Parnell and the Legislature approved a new taxation plan that lowered the taxes on the oil industry with the intent - but no demand - that companies reinvest savings into increased exploration and production. The bill survived a referendum during the August primary.

In September, a scathing federal report into allegations of sexual assault and fraud in the Alaska National Guard found that victims do not trust the system because of a lack of confidence in the command. Parnell requested the resignation of his adjutant general and others in an effort to cleanse the guard and follow recommendations of the federal report.

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