Democratic candidate for Alaska Governor Mark Begich told KRBD on Wednesday that, like many Alaskans, he was surprised by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott’s abrupt resignation and withdrawal from the campaign.
“It does change the dynamics for sure in the election here. How and what that means is still not clear,” he said. “I think a lot of people are waiting to hear what the governor’s going to do or not do. In the meantime, we’re here today, we’re going to continue to campaign.”
Begich was in Ketchikan to attend the Alaska Native Brotherhood/Alaska Native Sisterhood Grand Camp convention, which kicked off on Wednesday.
Gov. Bill Walker, who is running for re-election, accepted Mallott’s resignation on Tuesday, citing “inappropriate comments” that the lieutenant governor recently made to a woman. Mallott admitted to making the comments, and has apologized.
Walker on Tuesday also talked about ongoing discussions with the Begich campaign about a “path forward” to defeating Republican candidate Mike Dunleavy. Walker didn’t get into detail about those discussions.
Begich confirms there have been talks. He, too, didn’t reveal any firm plans. The main point of any path forward, Begich said, would be to keep Dunleavy from becoming governor, which he said would be a disaster.
“A lot of dynamics have changed in the last 24 hours. The question now, really, is the viability of campaigns,” he said. “We’ve always believed we have a strong campaign. We have a great network. We have people all over the state. We usually are second in the polls in a three-way race, even though we spent the least amount of money.”
Begich said combining his campaign with Walker’s is unlikely, because ballots already have been printed. He didn’t answer a suggestion of one candidate withdrawing in favor of the other, but said the next few days will be “very enlightening” for those watching Alaska’s gubernatorial race.
During his interview with KRBD, the former U.S. senator also talked about his plans for funding education, balancing the state’s budget, combating crime and developing alternative energy, as well as his support for state recognition of Alaska tribes. We’ll have an additional report from the interview later.