The chair of the Alaska Democrats penned a letter to the party faithful on Thursday, and it might have Gov. Bill Walker watching his back.
Alaska Democrat Party Chair Casey Steinau signaled that Democrats may offer up their own candidate for governor after all.
Walker and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott have filed as unaffiliated candidates for the 2018 election. That leaves Democrats in a quandary.
Back in 2014, Mallott was chosen by primary voters to advance to the General Election ballot as the Democrat choice for governor.
But right after the primary, the Democrat Party’s State Central Committee rejected Mallott’s win.
The Democrats’ Central Committee moved Mallott down the ballot to the lieutenant governor’s slot, and moved Walker to the top of the ticket. Walker, in exchange, switched from being a Republican to unaffiliated. The resulting marriage of convenience was called the “unity ticket” with the full support of the Alaska Democrat Party and Big Labor. They went on to defeat Republican Gov. Sean Parnell in the General Election.
But that was then. This year, Democrats are considering all the possibilities, including that a big-name Democrat may be planning to run. Steinau wrote to her email list:
As you have heard, the Governor and Lt. Governor have announced that they are running for re-election. While there are questions about what the campaign will look like since they don’t currently have the institutional support of either party, I want to be clear about what is in the best interest of the Alaska Democratic Party and that is continuing to advocate for a progressive agenda for Alaska.
I know there are individuals considering seeking the Democratic nomination for Governor and we are ten months away from the filing deadline and one year away from the August 2016 primary — an eternity in politics. The goal of the Democratic Party continues to be to elect Democrats. Additionally, the stakes in 2018 when it come redistricting (sic) couldn’t be higher. We must do everything possible to keep a Republican Governor from being elected in 2018.
Tuckerman Babcock, chair of the Alaska Republican Party, said the chickens have come home to roost for the Alaska Democrats’ State Central Committee.
“The Democrats’ party leaders can’t decide if their Democrat-elected governor is Democrat enough for them. They’re spinning around in confusion,” he said.
“This is buyer’s remorse,” said Sen. Mike Dunleavy, the gubernatorial candidate from Wasilla. “They are hedging their bets. We need to put Alaska back on track. The Democratic party has been about causes like saving the whales and tearing down statues. We’re focused on each and every Alaskan having opportunity, each and every Alaskan having a job. The last thing this state needs is a rerun of the last three years.”
“Gov. Walker is a man without a state,” said former Sen. Charlie Huggins, who is weighing a run for the office. “He was once supported by the Democratic Party, which now has decided to go in a different direction than the ‘unity ticket.’ Goodbye Gov. Walker.”
Scott Hawkins, who has an interest in running for governor, had this to say: “Let’s not kid ourselves. Gov. Walker calls himself an ‘Independent,’ but has been governing very much as a Democrat. The real question is, will there be one Democrat in the race for governor, or two?”