ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Democrat Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer's campaign for governor is getting help from former Republican Gov. Jay Hammond and the past president of the Alaska Federation of Natives.
Ulmer announced Thursday that Hammond, who was governor from 1974 to 1982, will serve as co-chair of her 2002 gubernatorial campaign with Janie Leask. Leask was an AFN president for seven years.
Ulmer worked for Hammond from 1974 to 1981 serving first as a legislative assistant and then as director of policy development and planning.
Hammond said he and Ulmer worked on many important issues, including the construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline and establishing the Permanent Fund.
''Fran proved so capable of getting to the core of the issues ... I found her invaluable,'' he said. ''I have nothing but supreme confidence in her abilities.''
Hammond said once some fellow Republicans found out he intended to work for Ulmer's campaign, they urged him to keep a low profile. That advice prompted him to do just the opposite, he said.
''I will absolutely have no compunction against going all out for Fran,'' Hammond said.
Leask said she was impressed with Ulmer's intelligence, compassion and work ethic. Though the AFN is a nonpartisan organization, it is often aligned with Democrat candidates.
''We look at the person and who can do the most for Alaska,'' Leask said. ''She is a wonderful hard worker on issues that affect us.''
Leask is manager of community relations for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. She serves on the boards of the Alaska Humanities Forum and Commonwealth North, and also is a trustee for the First Alaskans Foundation.
Ulmer said Alaskans probably consider her an underdog to Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska -- the other leading gubernatorial candidate -- because of his high profile in Washington, D.C., and years of experience at running big campaigns.
But if they examine her record of accomplishments, she will have the advantage over Murkowski, she said.
She cited improvements made to the Division of Elections and her role in promoting technology to make government more accessible. She also pointed to improvements made in rural education by having schools wired for the Web.
Ulmer said she has raised about $350,000 to help her campaign, about $100,000 beyond her goal. Murkowski at the end of 2001 had generated between $350,000 and $400,000, according to his campaign.
Ulmer faces Democrat Bruce J. Lemke in the August 2002 Democrat primary. Don Wright of Fairbanks and John Wayne Glotfelty are running to be the Alaskan Independence party candidate.
Anchorage attorney Wayne Ross is also running in the GOP primary.
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