Mallott's sudden resignation cripples Walker's re-election campaign

Gov. Bill Walker—already facing a likely loss in a campaign dominated by Mike Dunleavy’s impossible promises of easy money, no taxes and better state services—suffered what could be a campaign-ending blow Tuesday with the resignation of Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott.

Mallott made an unwanted “overture” to a woman, though the details of what he said or did have been withheld by Mallott and Walker. The identity of the victim should be kept confidential, but Walker should reveal what Mallott said to warrant this action. There are many degrees of inappropriate behavior.

Mild insults are inappropriate. Serious threats are inappropriate.

For the past four years Walker has made much of the Walker-Mallott team as a central element in his administration, a symbol of unifying to overcome common problems. Now, Mallott’s behavior has dealt a crippling blow to Walker’s dream of re-election.

It’s hard to see how Walker continues with a credible campaign after this unless he is resigned to plod ahead and finish third behind former Sen. Mike Dunleavy and former Sen. Mark Begich.

Despite what the Republican Party says, Walker is a conservative, though his support for a balanced fiscal plan with taxes puts him closer to Begich than Dunleavy on state money matters. Walker is going to be under increased pressure to drop out.

Though Mallott has resigned, he will remain on the ballot as a candidate for lieutenant governor. The ballots have been printed and Mallott would be elected lieutenant governor if Walker wins.

A vote for governor is counted as a vote for lieutenant governor under Alaska law. The only way to get a name off the ballot is to make the request 64 days before Election Day.

Mallott and Walker have said that Mallott would not accept the post if elected, allowing Walker to pick a replacement. Walker says that Valerie Davidson, who was sworn in Tuesday as lieutenant governor, would be the replacement.

She is in an unusual position. Davidson is not a candidate, her name will not appear be on the ballot and she won’t get any votes on the Walker ticket. If the Walker campaign continues she would be encouraging people to vote for “Walker-Mallott,” with the understanding that Mallott won’t serve.

The Alaska Constitution has two main passages about the lieutenant governor: “There shall be a lieutenant governor. He shall have the same qualifications as the governor and serve for the same term. He shall perform such duties as may be prescribed by law and as may be delegated to him by the governor.”

“The lieutenant governor shall be nominated in the manner provided by law for nominating candidates for other elective offices. In the general election the votes cast for a candidate for governor shall be considered as cast also for the candidate for lieutenant governor running jointly with him. The candidate whose name appears on the ballot jointly with that of the successful candidate for governor shall be elected lieutenant governor.”

The Constitution also provides for the governor to name an individual as a replacement for the lieutenant governor in case of a vacancy. Under state law, the governor designates a department head to be next in line to become lieutenant governor.

Davidson, formerly the commissioner of health and social services, had been designated as the next in line in April.

Dermot Cole1 Comment