Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson is sworn as lieutenant governor during a ceremony with Director of Rural and Native Affairs Barbara Blake and Gov. Bill Walker in Anchorage on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. (Photo courtesy Alaska Governor’s Office)

Byron Mallott resigned suddenly today as lieutenant governor, over “inappropriate comments” he recently made.

State Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson was sworn in during a ceremony in Anchorage today to replace Mallott.

Mallott also is running for a new term on a ticket with Governor Bill Walker. It’s too late to remove his name from the ballot, but Mallott’s resignation also applies to the campaign. The campaign published a statement on their website stating Mallott would not accept the position if re-elected.

Governor Walker has been close to Mallott. He talks frequently about their constant contact and collaboration. “It is with profound disappointment and sadness that I accepted the resignation of Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott,” Walker said in a statement.

The lieutenant governor oversees elections but has few other official duties.

Mallott has been unusually visible in the role. He was the Democratic nominee for governor four years ago, before he merged his campaign with Walker’s.

In his resignation letter, Mallott said his resignation was “compelled by inappropriate comments I made that placed a person whom I respect and revere in a position of vulnerability.” He did not say who he was referring to. Mallott wrote in the letter that he takes full responsibility for this action and apologizes to the person he says he hurt. Mallott told Walker in the letter that he recognizes that his actions have compromised Walker’s ability to lead the state and wrote, “for that I also express my remorse and sorrow.”

Mallott is from Yakutat and is 75-years-old. He became mayor of the city when he was 22. He is a clan leader of the Tlingit Raven Kwaash Kee Kwaan clan. He was president of the Alaska Federation of Natives and the First Alaskans Institute. He was chair and executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation.

Walker appointed Doctor Jay Butler as the new commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services.