Alaska governor Walker suspends reelection campaign

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) announced Friday that he is ending his bid for reelection less than three weeks before Election Day and endorsing Democrat Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska Senate race sees cash surge in final stretch Alaska group backing independent candidate appears linked to Democrats Sullivan wins Alaska Senate GOP primary MORE over Republican Mike Dunleavy.
The announcement came three days after Walker's running mate, former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott (D), stepped down and dropped his reelection bid, citing unspecific "inappropriate comments" made to a woman.
"Effective today I am suspending my campaign," Walker said Friday at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
"In the time remaining, it has become clear we cannot win a three-way race," he said. "The decisions was made that at this point, Begich has the better odds. Alaskans deserve a competitive race and Alaskans deserve a choice other than Mike Dunleavey."
The Republican-turned-independent was seeking a second term after being elected in 2014.
Democrats quickly praised the move Friday, saying it put their candidate in a position to potentially win the governor's mansion.
“This is a game changer in the Alaska Governor’s race. This race immediately becomes a tossup, open-seat race between a popular Democrat in Mark Begich and a fringe Republican in Mike Dunleavy," Democratic Governors Association Executive Director Elisabeth Pearson said in a statement.
poll released by Alaska Survey Research this week showed Dunleavy with 43 percent of likely voters' support, compared to 26.6 percent and 26.4 percent for Walker and Begich, respectively.

An analysis in the poll of a hypothetical race between just Begich and Dunleavy significantly tightened the margin, with the Republican having a 52 to 45 percent lead with 3.5 percent of voters undecided.

Early voting for the Alaskan gubernatorial election starts Monday. 

— Chris Mills Rodrigo contributed 

Updated: 7:44 p.m.