Alaska Democratic Party Chairwoman Casey Steinau read a sharp-tongued fundraising letter sent by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott on Friday, and took him to task for it. This was the state party leader scolding the highest-elected Democrat in the state.
Mallott is a lifelong Democrat who was the Democrats’ nominee for governor in 2014, but who, at the instruction of the Democrats, stepped aside so that Bill Walker could win for governor. Mallott took the back seat as the lieutenant governor candidate. He was allowed by a judge in 2014 to become a petition candidate on the General Election ballot without ever having to gather a single signature.
This time as a Democrat incumbent with an undeclared Walker as governor, Mallott has chosen to run as a petition candidate on the General Election ballot along with Walker. Speculation has been rampant that he could jump ship and form a ticket with Mark Begich.
On Friday morning, Mallott’s harsh-toned letter dispelled rumors that he might join a Begich ticket.
The two have not had a good relationship this year. Begich visited the governor and lieutenant governor in the spring and told them he didn’t plan to run for governor but had a few words of wisdom for them.
Mallott is said to have bristled at Begich’s impudence, and shot back at Begich that they didn’t need advice from a guy who had lost a statewide election as an incumbent U.S. senator.
After that encounter, Begich formed up his campaign strategy to take on the two.
Mallott’s letter on Friday was gasoline on the fire of that relationship, sending a clear message that no post-primary switcharoo would be in the works, as it was in 2014. At least not now.
Mallott also used the opportunity to call Republican Mike Dunleavy a “cotton candy candidate.”
The letter from Byron Mallott, in full:
The head of the Alaska Democratic Party didn’t take that letter lightly. Casey Steinau blasted out a missive of her own, defending Begich against Mallott’s charges and calling the lieutenant governor’s letter a “disappointing attack.”
Steinau’s letter, in full:
“As you may have seen, the Lt. Governor sent out a disappointing attack Fridaymorning on Mark Begich as part of a fundraising plea. The Lt. Governor’s email wasn’t about a policy difference or a comparison of records, but rather the kind of inaccurate and unnecessary character attack that so many of us had hoped we would avoid this campaign season.
“Specifically, the Lt. Governor claimed that Mark Begich was “nowhere to be found” during the last three and a half years of the Governor’s term. Anyone who knows Mark (as the Lt. Governor has for decades), knows that simply isn’t true.
“The Lt. Governor wrote, “I say to Mark Begich: If you wanted to help, we were waiting for you for three and a half years …” What?
“Mark has been a regular fixture back home in Alaska – spending time with family, friends, and regularly spotted at Home Depot or Fred Meyer. But he was also busy starting a successful business and engaging on important issues across the state. He has been out campaigning and supporting our friends – Democrats – running for office all across the state. He has been a leader and spoken out on important issues – from Fair Anchorage to the PFD to women’s rights and more. And yes, Mark has also reached out and met with the Governor and Lt. Governor – on more than one occasion – to talk about the challenges facing our state and his willingness to be a partner in finding solutions. One of the reasons so many Alaskans support and respect Mark Begich is because whether he is in office or not, he is always working hard for Alaskans.
“Campaigns are competitive and Mark Begich is a tough, proven campaigner, but we hope all the candidates will follow Mark’s lead and focus on laying out a positive vision for how we move Alaska forward rather than trying to engage in misleading, negative, attacks.
“If you haven’t checked out Mark’s updated website yet, please visit: www.begich.comand read more about his detailed positions and plans to get Alaska back on track. We always encourage a healthy debate on the issues and hope voters will take the time to compare the candidate’s positions on their websites – though you might have a tough time finding Mark’s level of detail anywhere else.
“We couldn’t be happier to support Mark’s positive, energetic campaign about Alaska’s future – and from the looks of his growing support and increasing momentum, Alaskans are sharing in our excitement.
Casey Steinau, Chair
Alaska Democratic Party