Governor's race uncalled; Walker plans transition

Photo/Molly Dischner/AJOC

Bill Walker hasn’t been declared the winner of the Alaska governor’s race, but he’s planning ahead just in case.

The independent gubernatorial candidate maintained a lead over incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell after the state began counting absentee and questioned ballots on Tuesday, but the race remained too close to call.

However, Walker is planning for the move in to office and has scheduled a Wednesday news conference to name co-chairs of his transition team.

Walker said in a release that this is being done in recognition of a constructional deadline that the governor be sworn in on Dec. 1.

“Today we began the process of contacting Alaskans across the state and asking them to join our transition team. The team we assemble will represent diverse backgrounds and experiences as we chart our path forward for the next four years,” he said.

Walker had about a 3,000-vote lead over Parnell after the general election. Walker increased that lead to 4,000 votes Nov. 11 when Alaska elections workers began counting more than 53,000 absentee and questioned ballots.

The Associated Press will not be calling the race until more absentee and questioned votes are counted. Elections director Gail Fenumiai said votes also will be counted Friday, and then Monday through Wednesday as necessary.

No outcome is considered official until the election certification, which is targeted for Nov. 28, Fenumiai said.

In the governor’s race, representatives for both campaigns were monitoring the count of remaining ballots.

“The governor’s going to respect the process until every Alaskan’s vote is counted,” Parnell spokesman Luke Miller said Nov. 11.

Parnell initially was considered the favorite in the race over Walker, who finished second behind Parnell in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary. Walker bypassed this year’s primary after opting to gather signatures to qualify as an unaffiliated candidate.

The race tightened after Walker merged his campaign with that of Byron Mallott, who won the Democratic gubernatorial primary in August. To join campaigns with Mallott as the lieutenant governor candidate, Walker dropped his membership in the Alaska Republican Party. The so-called unity ticket was seen as providing a more formidable challenge to Parnell.

During the campaign, Parnell also was dogged by criticism that he did too little too late in handling allegations of sexual abuse within the Alaska National Guard that emerged in 2010, a characterization he disputed.

Walker was criticized by Parnell as having contradictory views and no specific plans. Parnell and his supporters also questioned the merged campaign, asking how a social conservative, such as Walker, could govern with a more liberal second-in-command.

11/12/2014 - 2:25pm