An Alaska Superior Court judge Friday morning denied a complaint brought by a Republican Party official that could have unraveled the “unity” ticket of gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker and his running mate, Byron Mallott. Steve Strait, an Anchorage district chair of the Alaska Republican Party, said he will decide over the weekend whether to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Judge John Suddock said the lieutenant governor and the Division of Elections acted appropriately when they issued an emergency regulation Sept. 2 allowing the merger of the “nonparty” ticket, though primary voters had previously chosen Mallott as the Democratic nominee for governor. In a lengthy explanation of his decision, Suddock said he was constrained by three decades of precedent, including a Supreme Court ruling, attorney general opinions, similar decisions by past lieutenant governors, and numerous Legislatures that had “OK’ed this kind of monkey business after the primary” by not creating a statute to address such situations.
“I just don’t have any basis to invalidate an agency regulation acting under powers delegated to it to do sensible things,” said Suddock, issuing his decision from the bench to speed a possible appeal to the Supreme Court. More than 2,300 ballots have already been sent to overseas and military voters, and hundreds of thousands of ballots have been printed.
Strait said he and his attorney in the case, Ken Jacobus, former lawyer for the Alaska Republican Party, needed at least a day to examine the details of Suddock’s decision before deciding whether to appeal.
“We think the judge erred in his decision,” Strait said. “We’ll have to take a day to digest what points of law we can come back on.”