Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott said Wednesday that he and Gov. Bill Walker will run for re-election next year. He also said they’ll run together.
Even for incumbents, that may be an uphill fight.
Mallott went further than Walker has in talking about next year’s election. He spoke to host Pete Carran on Juneau radio station KINY.
“Well, we have both decided that we will run again,” Mallott said.
Mallott said the decision isn’t absolute, because they don’t know what may occur in the future. But he said their minds are made up to run again.
“Whatever we do, we’ll do together, for sure,” Mallott said.
Walker is a former Republican who ran without party affiliation in 2014. Mallott is a longtime Democrat who won the party’s nomination for governor that year. Mallott then decided to join Walker’s ticket.
Mallott didn’t say whether he and Walker will seek the nomination of a political party. But he noted that their non-affiliated run last time was successful.
Walker’s political spokeswoman is Lindsay Hobson, who is his daughter. She declined to comment on whether Walker is running for re-election.
But Hobson may have confirmed a re-election campaign in a roundabout way. She said she isn’t saying that Mallott was inaccurate.
Mallott’s comments were received warmly by Alaska Republican Party chairman Tuckerman Babcock.
“We are happy to have our candidate take on two Democrats,” Babcock said. “And we think Gov. Walker represents Democrats, and we think the Democratic party will get its act together and will have an upfront Democrat. So, from our perspective, having two Democrats running is a good thing.”
Walker faces a potential challenge. If there is a Democrat running separately on the ballot, those votes would likely come at his cost.
Babcock said he doesn’t think it’s possible for Walker to run as a Republican.
“I don’t see any avenue for Bill Walker to try to run in the Republican primary,” Babcock said. “I mean, he’s governed as a Democrat, with Democrat policies, and Democratic appointments for the most part. And we see him as just a Democrat in independent clothing.”
The Republicans may have a large field. While Wasilla state Sen. Mike Dunleavy is the only announced candidate, former senators John Binkley and Charlie Huggins, former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman and businessmen Bob Gillam and Scott Hawkins have met with party insiders about possible campaigns.
The Alaska Democratic Party endorsed Walker three years ago. Party executive director Jay Parmley said he wasn’t surprised by Mallott’s comments.
Parmley said the party hasn’t talked with Walker and Mallott about how they would run.
“And we will cross that bridge whenever there’s a complete formal announcement and the governor and lieutenant governor both declare their complete intentions as to the way they are choosing to move forward,” Parmley said.
Parmley said Babcock shouldn’t be focused on who will run against the Republican candidate.
“I’m not concerned who the Republicans are going to nominate,” Parmley said. “It’s going to be in my view sort of a clown parade on that side.”
Parmley said he’s not concerned that both Walker and a Democrat will appear on the ballot.
“The reason I’m not concerned about anything is because it’s not a reality,” Parmley said. “The fact of the matter is, the governor and the lieutenant governor are going to make a decision. We may have other Democrats who make a decision. And we will work all of that through as we go.”
A major unknown on the Democratic side is whether former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich will run.
The filing deadline for the primaries is June 1, almost ten months away.
Correction: This story hasn’t been updated to reflect that the Alaska Democratic Party endorsed Walker three years ago, not four.