It’s history in the making. Never in Alaska has a Democrat been absent from the gubernatorial ticket until now.
Former Lt. Governor candidate for the Independent party Craig Fleener was at Tuesday’s announcement, even introducing the candidates. But former Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Hollis French was nowhere to be seen and it didn’t go unnoticed.
It was two weeks ago French was celebrating his primary victory for lieutenant governor and supporting the Democratic ticket.
Fast forward to Tuesday to an announcement that brought French’s aspiration to a halt.
Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker and Democratic candidate Byron Mallott will join forces. Walker will be running for governor and Mallot will be stepping down to run for lieutenant governor.
But what about French?
“I talked with him just this afternoon after our press conference announcing this new campaign and he wished me the very best,” said Mallott Tuesday afternoon.
Both French and Fleener stepped down to make the combined ticket a reality.
“I don’t see Hollis French here,” a reporter asked at Tuesday’s announcement.
“He certainly was invited to be here and participate in this process,” Walker replied.
French declined to comment Tuesday but his Democratic counterparts applaud his decision to officially step down.
“Real leadership is having the courage to put your own personal ambition aside and put the public benefit first and Hollis French did that in this case,” said former Democratic lawmaker, Ethan Berkowitz.
“Hollis is one of my best friends; I talked to him last night. I talked to him over the weekend as events were unfolding. He supports this,” said Democratic state Sen. Bill Wielechowski.
It’s unclear how vocal French’s support of the new combined ticket will be.
Walker said during the discussions to make this move, neither French nor Fleener asked for anything in return.
Walker and Mallott say it’s still unclear at this point what role French will have in the campaign if any.