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Former first ladies of Alaska line up behind Senate bipartisan gang

Alaska Dispatch

With less than a week until Election Day, the wives of two former Alaska governors are making known they prefer a bipartisan approach to Senate business.

Ermalee Hickel and Bella Hammond, wives of former governors Wally Hickel and Jay Hammond, made the announcement Tuesday through the resurrected political group Backbone Alaska.

"As our husbands were known for putting Alaska first, we, too, are dedicated to this guiding principal," the former first ladies said via press release. "Now, multi-national corporations are attacking those Alaska legislators running for re-election who stood together in the past session to protect Alaska’s interests."

Govs. Hickel and Hammond formed the original Backbone group in 1999 to counter perceived oil industry interests as then-Gov. Tony Knowles negotiated Alaska's position during the BP-Arco merger.

Fast-forward to 2012 and Backbone's again pushing back at oil's influence. This time, the group is defending the Senate's bipartisan coalition for questioning oil-tax reform over the last two years.

"We thank and endorse Senators Hollis French and Bill Wielechowski and their colleagues in the Senate Bipartisan Working Group for their courage and leadership, and urge our fellow Alaskans to support them in the upcoming election."