Alaskan governor pulls out of re-election race and throws support to Democrat

Alaska's independent governor, Bill Walker, shocked the political establishment in announcing his withdrawal from his re-election race just 18 days before the voting begins.

Walker's withdrawal follows the withdrawal and resignation of his lieutenant governor, Bryan Mallot, for "inappropriate comments" made to a woman.

Anchorage Daily News:

With less than three weeks until Election Day and with more than 23,000 absentee ballots already mailed to voters, Walker's decision to step away from his campaign marks a significant, last-minute change in the battle to become Alaska's next governor.

The three-way race has now become a two-way fight between Begich, a former U.S. senator, and Dunleavy, a former state senator.  How this complicates voting is not yet completely clear.  Some Alaskans have already sent in their voted ballots.

Walker had been scheduled to attend a candidate forum at the AFN convention Friday afternoon with his competitors Begich and Dunleavy.

Instead, he went on the stage at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center – before the forum started – and told a crowd of hundreds from across the state: "Every decision I have made as your governor, I have made on the basis of what I believe is best for Alaska.  With that said, effective today, I am suspending my campaign for the re-election as governor."

There were gasps and shouts from the audience.

An emotional Walker, in a blue kuspuk, said that with only 18 days until the election, "it has become clear, we cannot win a three-way race."  This week, he said, he talked to "many, many, many Alaskans" about who had a better chance of competing against Dunleavy.

The determination was made that, at this point, Begich has the better odds," Walker said.

Begich lost his Senate seat to Republican Dan Sullivan in 2014 largely because he was seen as too liberal for Alaska.  He's gotten more clever at presenting a moderate, independent image to the voters, but Dunleavy has heavily outraised Begich and leads fairly comfortably in the polls.

More interesting at this point is why Walker endorsed Begich.  Walker, who says he's a moderate, didn't like some of Dunleavy's criticism about his stewardship of the state, which most voters believe was abysmal.  It's doubtful this close to the election that Walker's endorsement will carry a lot of weight, which makes Walker's choice to drop out more than a little mysterious.

If you experience technical problems, please write to