The governing committee of the Alaska Democratic Party is having an emergency meeting on Monday evening to discuss the possibility of a governor’s ticket that combines the candidacy of independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker and Democratic candidate Byron Mallott.
The Executive Committee of the Democratic Central Committee will meet telephonically beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Labor Day. This will be followed by a Central Committee meeting. Rumors about such an alignment between Walker and Mallott have been swirling for days. However, there have been questions about how it would work. Walker is a registered Republican. Democratic Party rules dictate that it can’t support a Republican. However, Walker can change his registration, and the party can nominate to support an undeclared candidate. Further, people have questioned whether Mallott, a hugely credentialed candidate, would take a number two spot on the ticket.
Alaska Democratic Party Chair Mike Wenstrup confirmed the meetings. However, he said that nothing is set in stone yet and that the candidates are still talking. He said that he called the meetings so that the party can be prepared.
However, numerous other sources have said that Walker and Mallott have reached an agreement. Sources have also said that enough members of the Central Committee, who must vote on the deal, are on board.
It’s unclear what role Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Hollis French will have in the race. What we do know is that he will have to step aside. French wasn’t available for comment.
Rocky Plotnick, who is the finance chair and on the Executive Committee, said that she was contacted by the party and told them that she would support the Walker-Mallott ticket. It was hard for her, she said. However, she wants to “do what’s best for Alaska,” she said.
Plotnick, like many Democrats, is pro-choice. Walker isn’t. However, she had gotten assurances from friends that Walker would keep his personal values away from the political sphere.
“It can’t get any worse than what we have now,” she said.
Walker has long been decrying the backseat role the state has taken in developing its resources—particularly in relation to the long sought dream of building a natural gas pipeline. Mallott is a Tlingit leader, who has experience in government and in business. Walker appeals to a populist crowd. Mallott appeals to Democrats, Alaska Natives, and business leaders.
Together, they could make a formidable ticket which has the potential to create huge excitement among the electorate, many of whom feel that Gov. Sean Parnell has been too to close to corporate interests, particularly with the oil companies. Both Walker and Mallott supported repeal of Senate bill 21. Many of their supporters are still in campaign-mode from the recent ballot initiative to repeal the oil tax break championed by Parnell. This ticket will keep those folks energized.
Too, organized labor will likely come on board in a big way to support this ticket. Parnell hasn’t particularly antagonized labor, but he hasn’t worked to cultivate its support in any way either. However, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, who is Parnell’s running mate, is a different story. He has the rockiest relationship with labor as any politician in recently memory.
“If Parnell’s campaign wasn’t unpalatable enough of an option to begin with, as soon as Dan Sullivan joined the ticket, that multiplied 10 fold,” Anchorage-based pollster Ivan Moore, who has polled both for labor and for Walker, said. Moore’s been pushing for the two to join forces, and wrote it about it last week.
All of the excitement and enthusiasm that will follow the ticket will also likely spill over into the Senate race to the benefit of Democratic Sen. Mark Begich. One of Begich’s key messages is that party affiliation is less important than standing up for Alaska.
This new gubernatorial ticket will sing the same song.
Contact Amanda Coyne at email@example.com