Alaska gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker, left, talks with his former running mate, Craig Fleener, before a news conference, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. Walker will join with the former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Byron Mallott, in a unified ticket to face Republican Gov. Sean Parnell in the general election.  Fleener stepped aside to let Mallott be the lieutenant governor candidate. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Alaska gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker, left, talks with his former running mate, Craig Fleener, before a news conference, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. Walker will join with the former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Byron Mallott, in a unified ticket to face Republican Gov. Sean Parnell in the general election. Fleener stepped aside to let Mallott be the lieutenant governor candidate. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Walker, Mallott merge campaigns

  • By Rachel D'oro
  • Tuesday, September 2, 2014 9:41pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE — The independent and Democratic candidates for Alaska governor said Tuesday that they are merging their campaigns to give them a better shot at unseating Republican incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell.

Independent Bill Walker said Tuesday that he has dropped his membership in the Alaska Republican Party and reregistered as undeclared. It was a move stipulated by the Alaska Democratic Party’s central committee when it voted 89-2 Monday to endorse Walker as governor and Democrat Byron Mallott as lieutenant governor.

Walker, 63, has been running as an independent, but he didn’t change his official party affiliation until Tuesday. Mallott, 71, won last month’s Democratic primary election for governor.

A combined ticket is expected to provide a stronger challenge to Parnell in November.

“What the Democratic Party has done is unprecedented in Alaska, to my knowledge,” Walker said at a news conference in Anchorage, adding that his conservative views still stand, but partisanship issues will not play a role. “We’ll have a no-partisan administration.”

Walker and Mallott joined their campaigns after discussions during the weekend.

“I could not have made the decision I have made if I did not come to know and trust and believe in the integrity of Bill Walker,” Mallott said, adding their shared vision for Alaska was a problem in separate campaigns. “They overlapped so much, that there was little differentiation between us.”

The current lieutenant governor candidates, independent candidate Craig Fleener and Democrat Hollis French, also dropped out.

Parnell’s lieutenant governor, Mead Treadwell, oversees elections in Alaska. Treadwell late Tuesday afternoon approved the new ticket for the ballot. Treadwell didn’t seek re-election as lieutenant governor in favor of running for U.S. Senate, and he lost the Republican primary.

Party affiliation and ballot changes had to be made by Tuesday.

French, the state Senate minority leader, did not attend the news conference. French released a written statement he gave to the Democratic Party chair to read to the central committee that begins with his belief that public service is an opportunity to make the world a better place.

“In this election cycle, I had believed that the best way forward for Alaska was with a Mallott-French ticket,” French wrote, saying he would resign as the Democratic lieutenant governor nominee. “I have asked for nothing in exchange for my resignation. I believe the overriding imperative is to replace Sean Parnell.”

Polls and political observers have pointed to Parnell, 51, winning a three-way race in November. But he would face a more difficult challenge against a single candidate, particularly Walker.

The Walker-Mallott ticket offers a “clear choice for Alaskans who want more of President Obama’s policies in Alaska,” Parnell said in a statement that also mentioned his lieutenant governor running mate, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan.

“For those who want more freedom, less government, and more economic opportunity, the Parnell-Sullivan ticket is the clear choice,” Parnell wrote.

Democratic Party spokesman Zack Fields said the merger has critics, but it follows overwhelming grassroots support that has been developing far longer than the candidates have talked about it.

“Sean Parnell continues to engage in partisan attacks when Bill Walker and Byron Mallott are teaming up to put Alaskans ahead of partisanship,” Fields said.

Walker finished second behind Parnell in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial race. He bypassed the primary this time after opting to gather signatures to qualify as an unaffiliated candidate.

More in News

Shawn Dick of Talkneetna carries a fresh catch out of the water while dipnetting on the Kenai Beach on July 10, 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Kenai River dipnetting opens this month

The Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery opens July 10

The sun is seen shining above the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska, on July 14, 2020. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clario file)
When the temperature hits 70, Alaskans feel the heat — and start suffering health ills

Acclimatization, the angle of the sun at high latitudes and other factors make summer heat more intense in Alaska

A map shows active fires around the state of Alaska on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Screenshot from Alaska Wildland Fire Information Map)
Fire danger prompts restrictions on burning, fireworks

There were 160 fires in Alaska as of Thursday, and of those 17 were staffed with fire personnel

Jessica Cook, left, and Les Gara are photographed in The Peninsula Clarion’s offices Thursday in Kenai. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Gara, Cook campaign on the Kenai Peninsula

The pair cited education funding, reproductive rights and election security as priorities

A map shows the Seward Highway MP 17-22.5 Rehabilitation Project area. The Seward Highway between Mileposts 17 and 22.5 — from about Primrose Campground to near Teddy’s Inn The Woods — will be closed from 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesday starting July 18, 2022. (Screenshot)
Roadwork in Moose Pass to shut parts of Seward Highway

The Seward Highway between Mileposts 17 and 22.5 will be closed from 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesday starting July 18

Former Homer High School athletic director poses on Friday, July 1, 2022, at the high school athletic field in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Work ethic, grit and teamwork

After two decades, Homer athletic director says goodbye to program he helped build

Assembly members participate during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Another renewable energy company seeks to set up peninsula solar farm

Utopian Power wants to build a two-megawatt solar farm on a 40-acre chunk of land owned by the borough

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID hospitalizations up from last week

Hospitalization data is the most effective indicator of the prevalence of the virus

Most Read