Campaign merger leaves Alaskans with less choice

  • Thursday, September 4, 2014 6:15pm
  • Opinion

It has been a momentous week in Alaska politics as gubernatorial candidates Bill Walker, an independent candidate, and Byron Mallott, a Democrat, merged their campaigns. The new ticket has Walker seeking the governor’s seat and Mallott as his running mate for lt. governor.

According to pollsters, Walker has a better chance of unseating incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell in a two-way race. But this development, while it may be good for the Walker campaign, is a disservice to Alaska voters.

First, a little history. Walker lost the Republican primary to Parnell in 2010, picking up 33.09 percent of the vote to Parnell’s 50.12 percent. This time around, Walker chose to run as an non-affiliated candidate to avoid the primary altogether.

But, until this week, Walker was still registered as a Republican — he dropped his party affiliation as part of the agreement to merge campaigns. And while Walker and Parnell may differ on specific policy decisions, when it comes down to it, their political views are fairly similar.

Where does that leave the 42,327 Alaskans who cast a ballot in the primary for Mallott?

If the goal of the election is simply to beat the opponent, then the race for governor just got more interesting.

But if the purpose of the election is to provide a voice and a choice for Alaskans, to debate different points of view and different visions of the state’s future, then the upcoming campaign season has lost some of its luster.

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