Alaska Governor Race 2014: Democratic and Independent Candidates Merge Campaigns in State with Growing Latino Population
The gubernatorial race has narrowed in Alaska as two candidates merged their campaigns against incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.
Independent candidate Bill Walker will continue to run for governor, with former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott now running as his liuetenant governor on a joint "Alaska First Unity Ticket." Mallott won the Democratic gubernatorial primary overwhelmingly, but the two campaigns determined Walker had a better chance to defeat Parnell in a head-to-head matchup.
"In recent months, it has become apparent that a three-way race would not result in the change that Alaska desperately needs," wrote Walker in a statement on his campaign website. "Following the primary election, we heard from Alaskans from every reach of the state and from every political background asking for my campaign to join with Byron Mallott's campaign 'for the good of the state.'"
According to Walker, he and Mallott had "many" talks that included their similar stances and commitment to serve Alaska first.
"This is not an easy choice, but a necessary choice. We realize that we do not hold an identical set of beliefs. But what is critical is that at this point in Alaska's history, and looking forward to our future, we must have an administration that is not beholden to any special interest other than Alaska's interests," said Walker.
According to Parnell, the team of Walker and Mallott offers Alaskans a "clear choice" of which candidate supports President Barack Obama's policies.
"For those who want more freedom, less government, and more economic opportunity, the Parnell-Sullivan ticket is the clear choice," Parnell said. "I have consistently fought for Alaskans and pushed back on Obama's policies in Alaska. Parnell-Sullivan will continue to run a campaign focused on building a stronger Alaska with more jobs, more opportunities in education, continued work on a gas pipeline, and safer communities."
In response to Parnell's comments, Walker said the gubernatorial campaign has been "riddled" with unruly politics and has soured relations among neighbors, friends and family.
Walker added, "Alaskans have had enough of this bickering. We need to heal relationships that have been damaged this election cycle. It is time to set aside these differences, find our common ground, and build upon it to grow a strong, united Alaska."
Walker spokesperson Lindsay Hobson noted, "Not only are these attacks unfounded, but they serve as a distraction from the real issues facing Alaska. Partisan attacks have no place in the Walker/Mallott campaign or in their future administration. These non-partisan candidates remain focused on resolving the critical issues facing Alaskans."
Based on polling figures, Parnell has the lead. Prior to the merged campaigns, Parnell led Mallott by 11 percentage points in data by Public Policy Polling. Parnell garnered 48 percent to Mallott's 37 percent. Against Walker, Parnell's spread narrowed. Parnell led with 41 percent to Walker's 40 percent. In a three-way race, Parnell also led the poll with 37 percent ahead Mallott's 22 percent and Walker's 20 percent.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, with an overall population of 735,132 residents, 6.6 percent of the Alaskan population is Latino. In comparison to 2000 Census numbers, the Latino population in Alaska was 4 percent. The national U.S. Latino population is 17.1 percent.
According to 2010 Census figures, more than 56 percent of the Alaskan Hispanic population live in Anchorage. The Alaska Department of Labor disclosed the median age of Latinos in the state was 24.4 years old, which is younger compared to the overall Alaskan population's 33.8 years old. A reason for the increased number of Latinos in Alaska was migration. Alaska's Latino population was recorded to have a per capita income of over $20,000 in 2010, while more than 76 percent hold a high school degree and 18 percent have a bachelor's degree.