Plans outlined for election scenarios

SUCCESSION: First is Parnell, then Colberg and special elections.

August 29, 2008 

Who will be Alaska's governor if Sarah Palin becomes vice president?

And from a practical standpoint, who will be running the state while Palin, as well as Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, campaign for offices that would relocate them across the continent to Washington, D.C.?

Here's a quick road map:

First, Palin has not resigned as governor and doesn't have to before the Nov. 4 election. She remains in command of state government.

"It is the honor of my life to represent you as your governor, and over the next two months I will continue to do so. As the mother of five, I know how to multitask," Palin said in a statement released Friday.

If Palin wins election as John McCain's vice president, Parnell would move up to governor and state Attorney General Talis Colberg would become lieutenant governor.

But what if Palin wins and Parnell, locked in a still-undecided Republican primary with U.S. Rep. Don Young, gets elected to Congress?

In that situation, Colberg would take over as governor.

In an interview Friday, Colberg said that under state law he would be merely acting governor.

The law says "the acting governor shall, by proclamation, call a special election to be held on a date not less than 60, nor more than 90, days after the date the vacancy in the office of the governor occurred."

Alaska voters would then choose a permanent replacement governor.

Colberg's office late Friday issued a brief primer providing further details on gubernatorial succession:

• If Palin and Parnell each win in November, both could "remain in their current state offices until they assume those federal offices."

• Parnell, if he wins, would become Alaska's lone U.S. representative on Jan. 3. Palin, if she wins, would become vice president on Jan. 20.

• The special election to replace Palin, assuming she remained as governor right up to the day she became vice president, would be held no earlier than March 21 and no later than April 20.

• If Parnell loses his House race and succeeds Palin, by law he could serve out the remaining two years of her term and no special election would be held for either governor or lieutenant governor.

For now, Colberg said, Palin "remains the governor." He said he expects her chief of staff, Mike Nizich, who is traveling with Palin, will hand out marching orders on how the state government will run while she campaigns nationally.

Kris Showalter, in the lieutenant governor's office, dispelled talk that Parnell took over Friday as acting governor.

However, Parnell will fill in for some of Palin's duties while she's out of state, Showalter said.

Parnell was in Anchorage on Friday.


Find Wesley Loy online at adn.com/contact/wloy or call 257-4590.

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