After reportedly making inappropriate comments to an unidentified woman, Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott resigned abruptly on Tuesday, Oct. 16.
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker accepted Mallot’s resignation, saying his second in command had made an “inappropriate overture to a woman” on Sunday, and that the comments “do not reflect the sterling level of behavior required in his role as lieutenant governor.”
Walker learned about the comments from Scott Kendall, his chief of staff, before a debate on Monday evening. Walker and Mallott spoke on Monday and again Tuesday, at which time Mallott offered to resign.
Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Nurr'araaluk Davidson was sworn in Tuesday afternoon. Davidson said in a statement that she was “profoundly disappointed” by Mallott's conduct. “Alaskans deserve the highest standards of conduct by their elected officials,” Davidson said. “Respect for women, and the dignity of all Alaskans, is our responsibility. I stand ready to serve as your lieutenant governor.”
Walker is in a tough re-election race as an Independent candidate facing challenges from Democrat Mark Begich and Republican Mike Dunleavy. It is too late to remove his running mate’s name from the ballot, but Walker has specified that Mallott would not accept the post if re-elected.
The resignation fueled talks of a hybrid election ticket between Walker and Begich. Polls show Dunleavy with a considerable lead of around 44 percent. Begich and Walker roughly split the remaining at about 26 percent each.
“We have been in conversations with Begich about the best way to move forward for Alaska, and those conversations will continue,” John-Henry Heckendorn, manager of the Walker-Mallott re-election campaign, told the Juneau Empire.
Mallott apologized for his actions in his resignation letter. The circumstances and details of the comments are unspecified.
“I take full responsibility for this action and apologize to, and seek healing for, the person I hurt,” the letter said. “I also recognize that my actions have compromised your ability to lead this state and for that I also express my remorse and sorrow.”