Independent Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and Democratic Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott will enter the Alaska Democratic Party’s primary, the campaign confirmed with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner tonight.
The confirmation brings an end to speculation over the independent governor’s plans for re-election after an Alaska Supreme Court ruling allowed the Alaska Democratic Party to open its primaries to independent candidates. The Alaska Democratic Party is holding its annual convention in Talkeetna this weekend, and both Walker and Mallott had already announced their plans to attend the event.
“This is a path that allows them to run together, to win, to be competitive,” Walker-Mallott campaign manager John-Henry Heckendorn told the News-Miner.
The decision was made because the two want a head-to-head race with the Republican candidate, a prospect that was complicated on Friday with the first entry of a Democratic candidate, independent candidate Tom Gordon, on Friday.
“We like a one-on-one with Mike Dunleavy,” Heckendorn told the News-Miner, adding that there’s concern that Dunleavy would win a three-way race.
The Walker campaign released favorable polling numbers for a head-to-head race last week, showing the governor would lead Dunleavy 51-44 in a head-to-head race.
The still-unresolved question of the Alaska Democratic Party’s primary is whether or not another prominent Democrat might appear to mount a serious challenge. Former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich said publicly last year that he’s considering a run, and results from the same survey that showed Walker’s lead showed an even wider lead for Begich at 53-42.
There have been no entrants into the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, which gives Mallott a clear path to re-election regardless of Walker’s fate.