FAIRBANKS (AP) — Alaska’s governor and lieutenant governor are planning to run for re-election by entering into the Democratic primary in August.
Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott had planned to bypass the primary and go directly to the November election by gathering signatures to run as unaffiliated candidates, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
Walker is a former Republican, but he ran as an independent when he became governor in 2014. Mallott is a Democrat.
The two had gathered about half the signatures required to be placed on the November ballot, campaign manager John-Henry Heckendorn said Friday.
“This is a path that allows them to run together, to win, to be competitive,” Heckendorn said.
Walker will appear on the Democratic primary ballot as an independent. Mallott will be listed as a Democrat. Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor do not run together as a ticket in the primary election, but they do in the general election.
The new plan was not due to any concern about the signature-gathering process, Heckendorn said.
“We had 100 percent confidence we would be able to gather the signatures,” he said.
But there was concern about the possibility of a three-way race in November, Heckendorn said. Walker wants a one-on-one race with Republican Mike Dunleavy, who Heckendorn noted might have a higher chance of winning in a three-way race.
Candidates can now appear on the Democratic primary ballot as independents following a recent state Supreme Court ruling. The Alaska Democratic Party had filed a lawsuit to overturn a state law that required candidates to be registered members of a party in order to be listed on the corresponding primary ballot.
Democrats sought the change to attract more voters.