Walker to Berkowitz: I do

ALASKA DISPATCH - October 15, 2010

Ethan Berkowitz seems to have finally won over former GOP gubernatorial rival Bill Walker.

Walker now says he's "happy to help out" on any effort to bring to reality an all-Alaska gas pipeline should Berkowitz be elected governor on Nov. 2.

Berkowitz has been wooing Walker for months, even before the Anchorage attorney and longtime gas line advocate lost a spirited Republican primary to incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell.

The Democrat has gone so far as to offer Walker a cabinet post or other spot in his administration. In a letter to Walker dated Friday Berkowitz put it to him again and very directly: "If I am elected Governor in November, given your years of experience regarding Alaska's oil/gas opportunities, would you commit to working with me in some capacity to select and lead a team on behalf of Alaska to make the All-Alaska Gasline a reality?"

Walker said yes.

In a letter back, Walker said "I would be honored to contribute my knowledge and experience to assemble and lead a team to" to advance a gas line project.

The acceptance of the political proposal isn't an endorsement, both men say.

"I'm not endorsing him," Walker said in a brief interview Friday afternoon. "It just means I'm happy to help him out. I'm happy to be a part of it."

Walker says undoubtedly some of his political supporters -- he received about 35,000 votes in the Aug. 24 primary -- will see it as an endorsement and that's OK. "I'm not out making stump speeches or anything."

For his part, Berkowitz sees the commitment to help as much more important than an endorsement.

"An endorsement is all about politics," Berkowitz said. "A commitment to work is all about building an all-Alaska gas pipeline."

"I see him him providing a lead role in negotiations and being a critical adviser on oil, gas and energy issues," he said.

Details are still to come, pending the vote on Nov. 2, but Berkowitz says it could be anything from a commissioner post to a special assistant to the governor.