- Associated Press - Monday, September 1, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The two challengers to Gov. Sean Parnell are discussing uniting their campaigns, representatives of the candidates said Monday.

Democrat Byron Mallott and independent candidate Bill Walker were in their second day of discussions Monday about whether they would run as a bipartisan or non-partisan ticket, Mallott spokeswoman Laury Scandling said in an email to The Associated Press.

A formal statement was expected by noon Tuesday, said Scandling, who added that she plans to leave the campaign at the same time.

Any changes to the ballot have to be made by Tuesday.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports discussions would have Walker as the gubernatorial candidate and Mallott as lieutenant governor.

The current lieutenant governor candidates for the campaigns would have to drop out.

Polls have suggested for months that Republican Gov. Sean Parnell would win a three-way race against Mallott and Walker, but would face a more difficult challenge against a single candidate, especially Walker.

Some Democrats and Republicans who oppose Parnell have been pushing Mallott and Walker to join forces.

“I can say comfortably there’s a common desire in both camps to not see the governor re-elected,” said Tom Begich, a high-level Democratic party volunteer who has been promoting the merger.

State Sen. Hollis French, an Anchorage Democrat, gave up his early bid to run for governor and switched to lieutenant governor to give the top spot on the Democratic ticket to Mallott. The two lieutenant governor candidates would have to consent to leaving their tickets to make the deal work.

Sticky issues remain that could kill or change an agreement. Among them: Will Walker drop his Republican Party registration? Will the Democratic Party forgo running a candidate at the top of the state ticket for the first time? Will Walker agree to abide by a set of Democratic core values, including on the issues of abortion and Medicaid expansion? Will Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, the state’s top elections official, agree to allow the ballot changes, some of them unprecedented, or would there be a protracted court case?

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Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, http://www.adn.com

Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.

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