What the heck is going on up in Alaska? The Lieutenant Governor, Byron Mallott (D) just resigned from his office yesterday citing “inappropriate comments” he made. Coming only a few weeks before the election, that certainly sounds odd. Even more strange is the fact that almost nobody in the media seems to know what he’s talking about. There’s been no word yet as to who the comments were made to, what he specifically said or really much of anything else. He’s already been replaced by a new Lieutenant Governor who seemed to suggest that it involved a lack of respect for women, but it’s all still very vague. (CNN)
Alaska’s lieutenant governor resigned abruptly Tuesday over what he said were “inappropriate comments” — which he and other officials have done little to further explain — providing an unexpected ripple in his boss’s re-election campaign just three weeks before voters go to the polls.
Byron Mallott, in a letter to Gov. Bill Walker, said it is “a resignation compelled by inappropriate comments I made that placed a person whom I respect and revere in a position of vulnerability.”
“I take full responsibility for this action and apologize to, and seek healing for, the person I hurt,” the letter, obtained by CNN affiliate KTUU, reads.
Mallott, a Democrat, was Walker’s running mate when they were elected in 2014, and the two had been running again on a joint ticket for a second term. Walker is an independent who formerly served in public office as a Republican.
So Mallott is out and has been replaced by former Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson. She was apparently briefed on the alleged misconduct but also failed to reveal any details to the press. All she would say is, “Respect for women, and the dignity of all Alaskans, is our responsibility.
It seems a safe bet that either the person Mallott said something to was about to go public in an October surprise or someone else who knew about it was threatening to. Either way, it probably wasn’t a reporter or we’d already have at least some of the details, if not the identity of the person he supposedly offended.
So is this going to have any impact on the Alaskan elections? Not very likely. It was already looking like Mallott and Governor Bill Walker were dead men walking in political terms. The last three polls of the Governor’s race have Republican Mike Dunleavy up by anywhere from 15 to 20 points. Walker’s fusion ticket with Mallot was only pulling 27%, roughly tied in the three-way race with Democrat Mark Begich. This is precisely the scenario that Democrats were afraid of during the primary. Back in August when the primary ended, the Alaska Daily News published a good analysis if you want to go read up on the history here. You basically have one Republican running against one Democrat and an independent who used to be a Republican but is now seen as more of a Democrat.
Incumbency obviously isn’t doing much good for Walker in this case. He and Begich are splitting the votes of the Democrats and the Dem leaners. (Alaska has a lot of unaffiliated voters, to the tune of 57%, while 25% register GOP and 13% are Democrats.) So all in all, it looks as if Walker losing his Lt. Governor in mid-October won’t have much impact at all unless it somehow swings a lot of his voters over to Begich.)