Here’s an op-ed written by former state Attorney General Bruce Botelho and former Lt. Gov. Stephen McAlpine, arguing that the lawsuit to keep the “Unity” ticket off the ballot has “no merit.”
On September 17, attorney and Republican Party activist Ken Jacobus went to court on behalf of the Republican Party’s district chair, Steve Strait, in an attempt to remove Parnell’s only significant opposition from the ballot. Mr. Jacobus’ theory is that Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell could not adopt emergency regulations to permit Bill Walker to substitute Byron Mallott as his running mate. Jacobus has demanded that the court bar Mr. Walker and Mr. Mallott from appearing “as a combined non-party ticket”. In our judgment, this lawsuit has no merit.
The scenario complained about in this current lawsuit has actually occurred on five separate occasions. In four of those instances (1982, 2002, 2006, and now in 2014) emergency regulations were adopted to provide the means to allow a gubernatorial candidate to select a new running mate. While elements of this merged ticket are certainly worthy of the “history-in-the-making” banner, the mechanics of the merger are nothing new or out of the ordinary in this state. In 2006, the attorney general reviewed the constitutional and other legal precedent and concluded:
“[W]e think that no-party gubernatorial candidates are free to choose any running mate they wish, regardless of political affiliation or lack thereof, whether it be at the initial petition stage or later when the original running mate may withdraw and need to be replaced.”
Mr. Jacobus’ complaint reads like the partisan press release that it is, attempting to portray the merger of the two campaigns as a cynical backroom deal orchestrated by union bosses. As eyewitnesses and participants in the discussions leading up to the merger, let us be perfectly clear — no offers of appointment, employment, or passing or vetoing legislation, or commitments of public funding were made. And despite all of the speculation, both Bill and Byron stood resolute in their personal convictions on certain issues but agreed that they were in alignment on the vast array of issues critical to them as Alaskans.
Yes, Bill and Byron talked privately about a possible merger of their campaigns. Each campaign had been following several polls over the course of the spring and summer showing that (a) Governor Parnell’s performance in office was largely discredited, and that (b) more Alaskans than not wanted a new governor which they would not get in a 3-way race. Bill and Byron recognized that they shared similar views on most of the pressing issues facing Alaska and that the state could not easily sustain four more years of extremism and mismanagement that characterizes the current administration. Their common vision is what led them to make common cause.
Bill and Byron were well aware of the AFL-CIO’s preference for a combined ticket. But well before that, there were voices throughout Alaska, in the business and medical community, among tribal leadership, from pro-life supporters and women’s organizations, conservatives and liberals, local government leaders, fishermen, hunters, farmers, families and students, who urged consolidation for the same reasons that brought Bill and Byron together.
We should not be surprised by this lawsuit. The latest polls show that Alaskans strongly prefer the Walker-Mallott ticket over the Parnell-Sullivan ticket. We are bemused by the irony that Republican Party operatives now believe they must rise to the defense of the Democratic Party.
We express our support for the integrity and competence of the attorneys representing our government in this case and our confidence that the court will uphold the actions of Lt. Governor Treadwell to permit Bill Walker and Byron Mallott to appear together on the November ballot. We deplore the efforts of Mr. Jacobus and Mr. Strait to deprive the voters of Alaska of a choice between the failed policies and actions of the Parnell administration and the opportunity for a new beginning that the Walker-Mallott team offers our state.
Stephen McAlpine served as Alaska’s Lt. Governor for eight years. Bruce Botelho served as Attorney General for Governors Walter Hickel and Tony Knowles. Both had years of experience dealing with election matters.