The Bill Walker and Byron Mallott campaigns have joined forces to defeat Governor Sean Parnell in November. They’re calling their combined campaign the Alaska First Unity ticket. The pair announced their decision at a packed press conference Monday afternoon. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell approved the ballot change late in the afternoon.
Walker agreed to drop his Republican affiliation to run for governor with Democrat Byron Mallott as his running mate. Walker previously ran as an independent. Both Hollis French and Craig Fleener, who were candidates for lieutenant governor, will step aside.
Mallott said it was not an easy choice to make, but he didn’t think either of them could beat Parnell on his own. Mallott said he does not feel like he’s abandoning the people who voted for him in the primary.
“It’s hard in political life to ask for this because of recent — of a long history. But we’re trying to change that! And I ask you to trust me. Look at my record. Look at what I say. At the actions I take. I cannot do anything more,” Mallott told the crowd.
The pair’s main message is that they are working together to build Alaska and to go against partisan politics. ”Our vision for Alaska was part of the problem in the campaign,” Mallott said. “They overlapped so much that there was little differentiation between us.”
Walker said he is still socially conservative, but they are not running the campaign on social issues. Instead they have agreed to focus on improving the economy and the education system. He said one way to do that is to actually decide which mega-projects the State wants to complete, like the Alaska LNG Project.
“We need to stop doing some of the crazy studies we do. We spend billions of dollars on studies and we don’t actually do something. We just study the studies of the studies. We need to decide to what we can do, what we’re going to do, and we can do it and stop studying everything else.”
Walker said he does not have other specific ideas for budget cuts. He assured the group that Mallott would be an active part of the decision making process and would have a place in the governor’s office if they win, not next door.
Luke Miller with the Parnell campaign said they are not surprised by the move. ”They’re both — the way we see it — two peas in a pod. They’ve both supported these liberal Obama policies in Alaska, whether it’s expanding Obamacare, raising taxes, or growing government.”
Miller says the Parnell campaign is still waiting to hear specifics from the new Unity Ticket on their actual policy proposals.
Department of Law statement: “Nothing in Alaska Law prohibits the changes to the ballot requested by Bill Walker and Byron Mallott. The Constitution and statutes are silent on this particular issue, but constitutional principles of equal protection and ballot access favor allowing approval of these changes, and we think a court would likely agree. The Lieutenant Governor is following past and current guidance of the Attorney General’s Office in adopting an emergency regulation to ensure that an appropriate procedure is in place for replacing a non-party lieutenant governor candidate who has withdrawn.”