The lieutenant governor of Alaska abruptly resigned on Tuesday after making unspecified “inappropriate comments,” the state’s governor said.
Gov. Bill Walker, an independent who is in the midst of a tough reelection campaign against Republican and Democratic candidates, announced that Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott had resigned. Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, the state’s health and social services commissioner, was sworn in as Mallott’s replacement.
“It is with profound disappointment and sadness that I accepted the resignation of Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott,” Walker said in a statement. “Byron recently made inappropriate comments that do not reflect the sterling level of behavior required in his role as Lieutenant Governor.”
Walker said he had learned of the incident on Monday night but declined to give more details.
In a resignation letter, Mallott, a Democrat, said that the comments he made “placed a person whom I respect and revere in a position of vulnerability.”
“I take full responsibility for this action and apologize to, and seek healing for, the person I hurt,” Mallott wrote. “I believe Alaskans have the right to hold their leaders to the highest standards of conduct.”
Walker hosted a brief news conference Tuesday in which he read his statement and left before taking questions.
His aides declined to give any information about the “inappropriate comment” and did not say to whom it was made.
Davidson, the new lieutenant governor, also spoke briefly, saying in unprompted remarks that “respect for women and respect for all Alaskans is our responsibility."
According to a poll cited by RealClearPolitics, Republican Mike Dunleavy holds a strong lead in the governor’s race.
Mallot’s name will remain on the ballot, the Alaska Division of Elections said in a statement.
“Under state law, it is too late for a candidate to withdraw from the ballot; that must happen at least 64 days before the general election,” the statement said. “Under the Alaska Constitution, a vote for governor is considered a vote for the lieutenant governor running with him or her.”
The elections division added that Mallot would “technically be elected along with” Walker, should he win re-election. “However, given Mr. Mallott’s resignation, Governor Walker would be able to appoint a lieutenant governor successor consistent with state statute,” the division said.