JUNEAU, Alaska - The chairwoman of the Alaska Democratic Party called on Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell Monday to remove himself as a member of Mitt Romney's leadership team in the state.
Patti Higgins said that while the Republican Party runs Tuesday's presidential preference poll, Treadwell will oversee elections in the fall. If Romney's the GOP nominee, Higgins said the concern is that Treadwell has already "expressed a bias" for him.
The question isn't whether Treadwell can endorse a candidate but whether he should, she said.
"If the top election official in the state comes out in support of a candidate, it gives the appearance of a conflict of interest," Higgins said in a statement, adding later that it shows a "serious lack of judgment" on Treadwell's part.
Treadwell, in an interview, said lieutenant governors in the past have been involved in presidential campaigns. He said he doesn't think the founders contemplated a lieutenant governor who would totally not be involved in the political process.
In 2008, then-Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell was chairman of Romney's steering committee in Alaska; Treadwell was co-chair. The party's nominee that year was John McCain.
Treadwell said he sees his job as trying to get the Division of Elections the resources it needs to run "free, honest, fair, transparent and honorable elections." He said he continues to do that work.
He said he has recused himself from requests the state has received to keep President Barack Obama's name off the ballot, leaving that to the Division of Elections and Department of Law. He said he has also turned down requests by Republican and Democratic legislative candidates to do fundraisers and will not make any comments on any voter initiatives that appear on this year's ballot.