Hammond, Hickel support Senate coalition

Two former Alaska first ladies are endorsing the members of the Senate’s bipartisan coalition in their re-election bids.

In a statement released by the nonpartisan group Backbone on Tuesday, Ermalee Hickel and Bella Hammond thanked the coalition members “for their courage and leadership.”

The women singled out Anchorage Democratic Sens. Hollis French and Bill Wielechowski. Malcolm Roberts, a Backbone spokesman, says the women know them personally.

Redistricting forced coalition members Bert Stedman and Albert Kookesh to face off. Roberts said both are good men, and Hickel and Hammond are not picking one over the other.

Backbone, which originally formed to fight a proposed oil company merger in 1999, came together again earlier this year to support the coalition and its stance against Gov. Sean Parnell’s plans to cut oil taxes.

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