Blatchford drops out of race for lieutenant governor

Published: Jun. 8, 2018 at 4:41 PM AKDT
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Just a week ago, there were two Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor, both Alaska Natives.

Now there is one.

Edgar Blatchford dropped out this week, saying he was satisfied that another Democratic candidate, Debra Call, represented his positions on major issues. Blatchford also said the sole Democratic candidate for governor, Mark Begich, would benefit by being able to run with Call on a ticket.

Call says Begich asked her to run.

Blatchford, 67, currently a

, a former commissioner under two Alaska governors, and a 2016 Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, said that Call brings one additional piece of diversity to the campaign — she’s a woman.

“The lieutenant governor is the only cabinet official that the governor can’t fire,” Blatchford said. “The lieutenant governor is elected as a member of the team and stays there as long as the governor is there and can be an independent voice for Alaskans.”

Blatchford has name recognition because of his prior run for office and his cabinet jobs for Govs. Wally Hickel and Frank Murkowski. Call has virtually none. But Blatchford said that shouldn’t be a problem for her.

“I don’t think I’m famous,” Blatchford said. "It’s a small state — it doesn’t take long to get to know many people, and I think that Debra will be famous.”

Now Blatchford said he won’t have to do the part of campaigning he hates the most — asking for money. “I just don’t like the strings,” he said.

But he hopes to still engage in the part of campaigning he likes best — discussing public policy.

“How do you formulate policy? I think that Debra is very good at that, I think that Mark’s heart and soul is in the right place — I think he wants to do this, and I think he wants to keep Alaskans involved.”

Blatchford’s decision surprised at least one of the Republican gubernatorial campaigns. Brett Huber, the campaign manager for Mike Dunleavy, said the primary election is designed to give voters a choice, and now that choice is gone.

But the incumbent governor, Bill Walker, an independent, and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott are running as a ticket in November, and Blatchford’s decision equalizes that situation for Begich and Call.