ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A joint press conference not withstanding, Fran Ulmer and Ernie Hall say they're not running as a team to be the Democratic nominees for governor and lieutenant governor.
At a coffee shop meeting with reporters Friday, Ulmer, Alaska's lieutenant governor, and Hall, a previously unaffiliated businessman and activist, said they will run campaigns with separate budgets and schedules.
But Ulmer said she will work closely with Hall in the months leading up to the primary Aug. 27.
''The more we talk about the issues and priorities for the state of Alaska, the more confident I feel about Ernie,'' Ulmer said.
Hall announced this week he was changing from nonpartisan to registered Democrat and that he would seek the lieutenant governor's job.
The other Democrat in the race is Anchorage longshoreman Scott Heyworth, the chief sponsor of a ballot initiative to create an authority that could build a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez.
''I have never received a phone call from Scott,'' Ulmer said. ''I would have to say the communication with Scott is not as good as the communication I've had with Ernie.''
Hall resigned from the state Board of Education to run for office. In recent months, he met with Ulmer on several occasion to discuss state issues.
Ulmer didn't encourage him to run so much as try to let him know what he was getting into, Hall said.
Hall said he was not planning to run for office until he detected that the Legislature may not take action this year on closing the gap between state income and spending. Fiscal solutions have been introduced but they may go nowhere, he said.
In the past, Hall said, people assumed he was a Republican. He said party politics did not figure into his activities so much as trying to do the right thing for Alaska.
Ulmer said Hall would bring gender and geographic balance to the ticket. As for Hall declaring a party affiliation only this week, Ulmer said, she had nearly the same experience as a nonpartisan mayor of Juneau before she declared her candidacy for state House in 1986.
Ulmer does not expect a high profile Democrat to jump into the lieutenant governor's race between now and the primary.
''I really would be surprised if that happened,'' she said.
Hall and his family operate a furniture manufacturing business.
Hall also resigned as chairman of Alaskans United, an organization derived from the group that successfully fought an initiative to cap property taxes two years ago.
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