A judge on Friday sided with the state of Alaska and ruled against a lawsuit that challenged the merged campaigns of two candidates in the governor’s race. Anchorage Superior Court Judge John Suddock ruled that an emergency order issued by Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell that allowed the merger was valid. The state argued that invalidating the order would leave the November election in shambles and disenfranchise voters, saying more than 2,400 overseas ballots have already been mailed out. “The people of the state of Alaska expect an election,” Suddock said after opposing sides had presented their oral arguments. “They expect to have a choice.” The lawsuit was filed last week by Steve Strait, an Alaska Republican Party district chair. Strait maintained Treadwell erred in his Sept. 2 order, which permitted candidates affected by the merger to officially withdraw from their respective races.
The order paved the way for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Byron Mallott to join campaigns with independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker and run as Walker’s lieutenant governor. The state maintained that Alaska statutes are silent on how to fill vacancies left by the withdrawal of a no-party candidate and that the action taken was not only appropriate, but required.
The new ticket is deemed a stronger challenge to Republican incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell, who was seeking his second full term in office. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan is Parnell’s running mate.
After Friday’s ruling, Strait and his attorney, Ken Jacobus, said they haven’t decided whether they’ll appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court. Jacobus said they first need to digest Friday’s ruling.