From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --
Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker said today he won’t be running on the Alaskan Independence Party ticket because the party doesn’t have any room on the ballot.
“At this point, there’s no spots available,” he said.
That’s because Don Wright – the AIP party’s candidate in the primary – isn’t stepping down despite previous news reports, party members said today.
Walker, who finished second in the Republican primary to Gov. Sean Parnell, was considering a run under the AIP banner. The move was a potential game-changer, giving Walker a re-match on the general election ballot against Parnell and injecting a third major player into the race alongside Democrat Ethan Berkowitz.
It's a lot easier to win an election when your name is on the ballot, compared to mounting a write-in campaign, which Walker is also considering.
But while Wright had talked about dropping out of the race to make room for Walker, he never actually did. The party is sticking with him, said Bob Bird, who hosted an AIP leadership meeting last night in Nikiski.
“We certainly consider it unethical to put pressure on him to withdraw," Bird said.
At that meeting party leaders voted to make Michigan Militia-founder Norm Olson its candidate for lieutenant governor. Olson favors state independence over continued federal funding and says he's commander of a growing group called the Alaska Citizens Militia.
The appointment would have complicated a Walker run as an AIP candidate.
Walker said he’s never met Olson and would need to know more about him, but that the pair don’t seem like they’d have made a good match.
Bird met with Walker Tuesday to talk about the possibility of the Anchorage attorney running on the AIP ticket. Bird said the party likes Walker’s message, but that he personally had concerns about swapping Walker for the existing candidate.
“I don’t think it would look good for our party to be seen as a rent-a-party,” he said, adding that putting Walker on the ballot could have aided Berkowitz, the Democrat.
Walker can still run as a write-in candidate, and he says he hasn’t talked to the Libertarian party about running as a Libertarian candidate.
UPDATE: I just checked in with Alaska Libertarian Party Chairman Scott Kohlhaas. Would/could the party consider allowing Walker to run for governor on the Libertarian ticket?
“Theoretically it’s possible. And yes we would consider it," he said.
(Note that the party's executive committee recently decided against allowing U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski to run in the general election as a Libertarian. Despite that decision, Kohlhaas said there are still talks going on behind the scenes about a Murkowski ALP bid.)