Lawsuit filed to remove “Unity” ticket from ballot

On Wednesday, Steve Strait and Frank McQueary, who are both state Republican Party officials, filed a lawsuit challenging Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell’s decision to allow Bill Walker and Byron Mallott to run together in the governor’s race as the “Unity” ticket. Treadwell oversees the division of elections. He certified the ticket on September 2, the last day such changes were allowed.

Two days before the due date, on Labor Day, the Alaska Democratic Party’s state Central Committee voted to put Walker, a Republican who had been running as an Independent, on top of the ticket, and Byron Mallott, who had won the Democratic gubernatorial primary, as his lieutenant governor. The switch was made because the party didn’t think they could win any other way. Alaska state Sen. Hollis French, who won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, is now not running for anything. It was one of the stranger acts of politics in Alaska, and among other things, means that for the first time in history, the Democratic Party will not have a Democratic candidate running for governor.

Long-time lawyer Ken Jacobus is representing Strait and McQueary, who are paying for it themselves, they said.They argue that the regulations that allowed Treadwell to put them on the ticket are reserved for emergency situations, when it is “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety, or general welfare.” The switching of the tickets was not an emergency, the plaintiffs argue, but rather a political calculus orchestrated in part by the Alaska AFL-CIO, who had been pushing to combine Walker and Mallott. They said that if this is allowed, election law will forever be changed.

“It will not matter who wins Primary elections or who is supported by the public, whatever party they belong to – anyone with enough influence will be able to hand pick nominees who are best for them,” they said. “In this case it was the AFL/CIO Leadership who interfered – next time it could be anyone with adequate financial resources.”

Treadwell claimed precedent when he certified the ticket. However, the precedent he cited was a situation in 2006, when lieutenant governor candidate Ken Lancaster had to drop out of the race due to health reasons, and another candidate was put in his place.

That 2006 decision was legitimate, the plaintiffs say. However, this situation isn’t. “Procrastination, political strategy, and political expediency has nothing to do with preserving public peace, health, safety, or general welfare, and is not an emergency” under state statue, they said in their legal brief.

Bill Walker dismissed the suit as party politics. “This complaint filed by the former general counsel for the Republican Party on behalf of a Republican Party chairman is nothing more than a distraction from the real issues facing the state,” he said.

McQueary is the vice-chair elect of the party. Jacobus was a lawyer for the Republican Party about 10 years ago

In any case, mostly due to practicalities and time restraints, it’s unclear if the plaintiffs will prevail. The Division of Elections begins sending out ballots on the 19th. The plaintiffs have requested an expedited hearing. Anchorage Superior Court John Suddock will be hearing the case. There will be a scheduling hearing on Thursday.

Correction: The article originally said that Frank McQueary was the Alaska GOP vice chair. He’s in fact the vice-chair elect.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


33 thoughts on “Lawsuit filed to remove “Unity” ticket from ballot

  1. Golden Awards

    It’s official. Lynn Willis who has nothing to do but comment on blogs says so. He’ll probabluy be part of the Mallott/Walker/Gara welfare state. This ticket doesn’t believe in anything. And look who walks with them……….the Sarah Palin crowd. Sure is a lovely group. No, thanks!

  2. J.R.Myers for Alaska Governor 2014

    I pray the “CON”-Fusion ticket meets the fate it deserves. Why do we have election laws and elections if they don’t matter. We need to RESTORE good faith and integrity in our elections. The “CON”-fusion ticket is a huge step towards third world politics.

  3. Ethan

    Dan passes judgements about “integrity” only when it applies to non-Republicans. In his mind, all actions taken by Republicans have integrity.

  4. Craig F

    Mr. Bannock – You are a man after my own heart on this subject – and many others. I wonder if the law requires that the state be involved?

  5. Craig F

    Actually, it was an emergency. When a candidate, the Lt Gov candidate, withdraws from the race, there is a need to fill the vacancy. Therefore it becomes an emergency and if it were done by a party they could legally fill the vacancy. The state argues that to provide equal protection under the law, an undeclared independent ticket should be able to fill their vacancy, just like a party would.

  6. Lynn Willis

    I apologize for not making myself clear. I didn’t mean to imply the Republicans now want to be protected FROM “big government” and “liberal judges. What I meant was exactly the opposite. They now want to be protected BY big government and the judiciary.
    I heard on the news this morning that the State Department of Law will fight this action to defend the decision of the Lt. Governor. How ironic to see Parnell’s appointed A.G. having to oppose the political interests of the Governor himself. These Republican zealots are only making the Governor look foolish. This “spoiled brat” behavior is not unlike what the “establishment” Republicans did to Russ Millet after he threatened the status quo.
    I do hope the legislature addresses your concerns after the election by adopting law that absolutely strips any advantage to any political party. They need to seriously examine the “Top Two” primary system or tell the recognized political parties to stop being parasites on the state. As it stands now the Lt. Governor, who apparently was authorized to do so, has made his decision. The judiciary is loath to directly involve itself in the Executive or Legislative process absent a clear and compelling reason. I say this is now strictly a party issue and more specifically a Democrat Party issue and, in any event, I haven’t seen any Democrats filing any lawsuits.

  7. John Smith

    There is a primary process in place for a reason. Not only does this disenfranchise Democrats and Independent voters (the majority of voters in Alaska) by switching the ticket at the last minute, post primary, also becomes detrimental to anyone who decides to run in good faith in the future. It becomes a waste of time and resources for those vying for political office. If this is held up in court, then there needs to be serious changes and clarity in Alaska Election Statutes to prevent it from happening again. If we allow politicians to treat the primary process and our primary votes with such disrespect, then we the people and our votes lose more of what little power we have. Also, as was stated before, it opens the door to big money to come in and corrupt our election process. You think big money in Alaska is having a negative impact on our election process now? Just wait until those with the deepest pockets believe that they have a free pass to purchase any political ticket that they like. This is a tragedy for Alaskan voters if it held up in court. I wish others could see it.

  8. Anonymous

    Far, far ahead? 8% is not far, far ahead. The only dirty politics are what Walker, Mallot and the Dems did in their political scheming. The law cited in this blog post seems very clear. It wasn’t an emergency. It was self-preservation. No PR statement about unity changes the law or covers their dirty hands. Bravo for McQueary and Strait! I hope they prevail. Walker had nerve claiming the lawsuit is political. Look in the mirror, Walker!

  9. Garand Fellow

    No. This is an issue for every Alaskan. All who chose to vote selected a particular ballot and voted based upon a rightful expectation that the Democratic ticket would be Mallott and French, and in that order. Walker and Fleenor were not in that mix, and any Alaskan might have decided to vote or not vote, to select a different ballot, or to vote differently had they known that after the election there would be no Democratic Party ticket, and French and Fleenor would disappear. Also, Mallott ran in the primary for one seat and is now running for a very different seat after having won in the primary. This was a strategic gaming of the process and a hoodwinking of all Alaskans. One Alaska Native in Southeast told me he may never vote again.

    I don’t see this lawsuit as requesting protection from too big government or too liberal judges. I believe it seeks honest performance as Alaskans were led to expect by the Division of Elections, and under state law and the Constitution.

    What Democrats attempted after Rep. Holmes switched parties is a recall election, which is a special election of course. In the instance of what the Alaska Democratic Party did an equivalent action would be to re-vote the primary. Holmes didn’t switch parties after the primary and before the general election leaving no one to run as a Democrat in the general election. I am not an attorney but I have worked with a few good ones, many not-so-good ones, and more than a few sleazy ones.

  10. Ethan

    So if he interprets the law differently than you think he should, then he has “little regard” for it. Your knowledge of the law must be extensive for you to make such judgements. I’m surprised that no one has ever approached you for a potential judicial nomination. Anyone who tries to defend the merits of this frivolity has just as much credibility as those bringing the suit.

  11. Ethan

    Anyone who believes that these characters are doing this out of concern for the election process or political integrity is a fool. This is just further proof, if anyone needed any, that these party-serving mouthpieces will say ANYTHING if they think it will advance their agenda. Therefore, nothing they say has any credibility. I hope that my vote in November will help usher in a different crop elected officials, and that these clowns will get flushed right along with ParNULLivan and crew.

  12. Stockholder

    Walker- Mallott are way, way ahead in the recent Hayes Research Group statewide poll.

    The poll was conducted Sep 13, 14, with 500 Alaskans, with a margin of error of 4.38%

    Bill Walker wins over Parnell by 8%.

    The reason for the Republican dirty tactics is very, very obvious.

  13. Garand Fellow

    I don’t know Mr. Strait and Mr. McQueary but I certainly agree with their complaint and with the apparent characterization of the hide-the-peanut game played on Alaskans by the Alaska Democratic Party, Bill Walker, Byron Mallott, Hollis French and Craig Fleenor. The plaintiffs are fine Alaskans for doing this. However, I am not optimistic about an honest outcome because for decades Outside attorneys have told me that Alaska courts “wing it” and the Alaska Supreme Court routinely invents law over following existing, plain law.

    If the courts allow this theft from voters to stand then look for a George Soros or even a Warren Buffett to do with Alaska elected office what Alice Rokoff (sp?) did with Alaska media – buy it. It will probably come when an incumbent, say a US senator from Alaska or a sitting Alaska governor, has a challenger in the general election from the extreme side of his/her own party – a third party candidate – as well as a challenger from the other party. The strongest challenger then can sell his/her spot, even if elected in the primary of the other party, to step aside and we will see a Soros or a Buffett buy a relatively cheap seat. I don’t find this any more far-fetched than what the Alaska Democratic Party did on Sept. 2.

    Would a media-attracting governor with the potential to earn millions of dollars on national television just leave his/her seat now or instead engineer a way to sell it given what the Alaska Democratic Party has shown us can be done (if this lawsuit fails)? Now that the Alaska Democratic Party has shown us that elections mean nothing, would a Sarah Palin-like official abruptly step down if so inclined or would he/she instead realize that incumbency is something of great value that can be sold?

    I hope the court is careful here. The Alaska Democratic Party has completely disenfranchised voters and in doing so has corrupted the election process in Alaska. Alaska is a strong governor state, and of course our US senators have power equal to that of the other 98 senators. And Alaska is a wealthy state. We saw hedge fund money easily buy the only state-wide newspaper. Now there is a clear path to buy elected office without going to the trouble of winning an election. Pick the bogey man you like (depending upon whether you are a Democrat or Republican), some people with vast wealth look for ways to turn that wealth into power and power in Alaska just became much less expensive – thanks again to the Alaska Democratic Party.

  14. J.R.Myers for Alaska Governor 2014

    No, this is an issue for all Alaskans. My running mate and I had to follow the rules, which are very difficult in order to gather petitions and appear on the ballot. It is sad to see the Division of Elections used yet again for political gamesmanship. We are indeed overdue for a new administration. Maria Rensel will not engage in these type of shenanigans as Lt. Governor.

  15. J.R.Myers for Alaska Governor 2014

    It is timed to end political party welfare in the form of publicly financed political primary elections. Obviously they don’t matter, and the people are stuck with the bill. Let all the parties choose their candidates at their own self-financed conventions. How many millions of dollars have the parties taken from the public to finance their three ring circuses over the years? Time to stop.

  16. Lynn Willis

    What blatant hypocrisy! This is an issue for Democrats. Not one Republican voter was possibly disenfranchised so why would the Republican Party care other than to gain a political advantage? The party that hates “big government” and “liberal judges” now wants protection from both. Where were these two plaintiffs when Ms. Holmes switched parties after being elected as a Democrat then changed party affiliation?
    The State pays for the primary and even allows the Republicans to close their primary to certain registered voters so the Republicans should appreciate the “golden rule” so favored by them: “He who has the gold rules”. If you don’t like participating in a state funded primary election then have a state convention (on your dime) and select candidates bound to run on your ticket.
    This is strictly a Democrat Party issue so the other party whould butt out.

  17. anonymous

    I think there is a bit of wishful thinking on the part of the so-called unity ticket. A poll, fresh from the field tonight, shows the top-line numbers in the head-to-head governor’s race with Parnell at a solid 7 point lead with the undecided factor at 19.5%
    I am a Democrat, albeit very disappointed with my party of poor decision makers. The best candidate we had was Hollis French. Unfortunately, some party leaders got excited about Mallott before realizing what a tyrannical 3 year old he is and what a lazy, poor decision making candidate he is. Then, we got rid of Byron, who at least is ethical, for someone with a savory self-enriching entitlement attitude. Only in Alaska is the Democratic party willing to turn their ballott over to a Republican. This will be remembered as a sad time in the state’s history. But Parnell will win.

  18. Stockholder

    Dan pretends concern about respect for the law? Really?

    Maybe an investigative reporter should dig into Dan’s background. There are about $60,000 reasons why.

  19. Stockholder

    The “press release” from Jacobus was a scream. A quote:

    “We have filed this lawsuit to protect the integrity of the election process in Alaska from becoming totally subservient to whatever interest group has the most money and influence.”

    Yeah, like the Republican party has not been a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Oil for decades? Where was the concern, Ken, when Big Oil was bribing scores of Republican crooks/legislators? We heard only silence.

    Bill Walker and Byron Mallott are almost ten points ahead in the polls. The oil company lobbyist gov is about to lose in a landslide. This lawsuit reeks of desperation and hypocrisy.

    Some of the same Republicans behind this nonsense were also involved in ousting a woman who was legitimately elected to head her party.

    They couldn’t have an honest woman in charge, now could they? The Republican party in Alaska is a standing joke.

  20. akmom

    My take away from this is that the republican party must actually be concerned that Walker/Mallot are gaining. But if they were serious about filing a suit could they have not found at least a “token” democrat to carry the banner?

  21. GHT

    Let’s hope that Judge Suddock rules against the Walker-Mallott team. Backroom political power brokers shouldn’t be allowed to disenfranchise the people who took the time to vote in the primary.

  22. Getty

    Treadwell, the RINO he is, allowed this to help Walker. I heard that the Unity Ticket had worked with Treadwell throughout the Labor Day weekend to help them make the move.
    First, Treadwell is a socially moderate-lberal, then he transformed himself into a right-wing wacko. Now, a Unity Ticket guy. Well, the lawsuit if nothing else will probably prevent the moody jerk from endorsing Walker.

  23. Duane Bannock

    I doubt this case will go too for; however, I have been advocating for a “Separation of Party and State” and I hope this case will perhaps shed some light on the fact that the Alaska Statutes addressing the (state funded) Primary Election are written for the benefit of the recognized political parties only.

    Please remember that the majority of the registered voters on Alaska are NOT affiliated with a political party (53.8% Non-Partisan & Undeclared). That begs the question: Why does the State have a compelling interest in the Republican/Democrat/Libertarian/etc. selection process?

    If the parties want to make the rules, then I say: let them pay for that process

  24. Dan Fagan

    The law is clear changing the ticket must be an emergency. But Judge Suddock has proven time and time again he has little regard for the law. I am not optimistic justice will prevail. Remember the days when we were a nation of laws.

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