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Democrat, independent join forces to unseat Alaska governor

JUNEAU Alaska (Reuters) - Alaska's Democratic and independent candidates for governor have decided to team up as running mates in the upcoming November election in a rare deal aimed at defeating the conservative state's Republican incumbent.

Bill Walker, who dropped his Republican affiliation, and Democrat Byron Mallott introduced themselves as partners on the independent ticket on Tuesday at a news conference in downtown Anchorage.

Walker will top the ticket, with Mallott running for lieutenant governor.

"As the campaign progressed it became clear that we shared many beliefs in Alaska, in a very similar way," Mallott said.

"I could not have made the decision if I did not come to know, and trust, and believe in the integrity of Bill Walker," he said.

Walker said he remains a conservative even though he dropped his Republican affiliation and is now undeclared.

"Partisan politics will not have a place in our administration," Walker said. "Byron and I will work in a partnership."

The Alaska Democratic Party's central committee approved the partnership by a vote of 89-2 late on Monday night, meaning the Democrats will not have a candidate on the general election ballot.

The agreement meant that Alaska state senator Hollis French and Craig Fleener had to step down as the pair's running mates.

While Walker and Mallott will appear on the independent ticket, Governor Sean Parnell's campaign called the partners Democrats in a statement.

"The Democrat gubernatorial ticket of Walker-Mallott offers a clear choice for Alaskans who want more of President Obama's policies in Alaska," said Parnell, who is running with Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan.

(Reporting by Steve Quinn; Editing by Curtis Skinner and Paul Tait)

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