Pierce running mate Grunwald urges support for Dunleavy

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The running mate of Alaska Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Pierce said Tuesday that she’s withdrawing from the campaign team and urging voters to support Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s reelection bid instead.

Edie Grunwald, who was running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Pierce, in a statement cited “recent circumstances” surrounding Pierce that led her to make her decision. The decision was announced two weeks before the Nov. 8 election.

Pierce, a former Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, was sued last week by a woman who said he sexually harassed her when she worked as an assistant. The lawsuit also lists the borough as a defendant.

Pierce did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press on Tuesday. On Saturday, after a candidate forum in Anchorage, he told the AP he had no plans to end his campaign.

Grunwald, in her statement, said: “I support and advocate for the respectful treatment of women in politics, the workplace and the world in general. I believe my stepping down at this time is in the best interest of Alaskans and a demonstration of my support for all women, regardless of political affiliation.”

Early and absentee in-person voting began Monday.

The race for governor also includes independent Bill Walker, who was governor from 2014 to 2018, and Democrat Les Gara, a former state lawmaker.

Pierce and Grunwald finished a distant fourth in the August primary, with about 6.6% of the vote.

Pierce in August announced plans to resign as borough mayor, effective Sept. 30, to focus on the campaign. His campaign at the time said he had earlier committed to stepping down after the primary.