Recall Dunleavy effort ends, falling short of signatures to force vote

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 11:18 AM AKDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 3:54 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The campaign to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy from office ended on Wednesday.

Recall Dunleavy Chair Meda DeWitt formally announced the end of the campaign in an opinion article with the Anchorage Daily News. She said the decision was made because Alaska is entering another gubernatorial campaign cycle with an election in November of next year.

Recall Dunleavy was centered on four charges against the governor, including that he violated Alaska law by not appointing a Superior Court judge within 45 days of receiving nominations.

The recall effort was challenged in court. Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth ruled that it could move forward in January 2020 before the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed that decision last month.

“I’m prepared for the real possibility of an election and we’re going to do everything we can to be prepared to win,” Dunleavy said last January, claiming the campaign against him was politically motivated.

The recall effort was launched in the summer of 2019 during divisive budget fights. Dunleavy had proposed cutting over $1 billion in state spending to pay a full statutory Permanent Fund dividend. Many of those cuts were rejected by the Alaska Legislature.

Recall Dunleavy organizers claimed the campaign has been successful in changing the governor’s behavior and prevented big budget cuts.

“It made him do his job in the way that he was supposed to do it,” DeWitt said on Wednesday.

The governor’s office released the following statement Wednesday on the announcement:

“Governor Dunleavy is doing what he was elected to do, managing Alaska, especially during these difficult times. He continued to manage the state through the pandemic, statewide economic difficulties, as well as long standing issues that must be resolved. He always believed his record would withstand any recall effort.

The statement goes on to say that Dunleavy, “continues to fight for enshrining the PFD and the Permanent Fund in the constitution, public safety and expanding economic opportunities for all Alaskans.”

Recall Dunleavy fell around 9,000 signatures short of the 71,252 signatures needed to trigger a statewide vote, according to the campaign’s website.

The signature gathering had initially been fast, but it slowed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DeWitt would not divulge how much money the campaign has on hand, but said it was not “a whole lot.” The steering committee will now decide what to do with it.

Tom Lucas, the campaign disclosure coordinator for the Alaska Public Offices Commission, said Recall Dunleavy would be prohibited from giving that money to a candidate.

DeWitt said petition booklets would now be shredded and those close to the campaign would “largely” be guarding any data it collected.

Attention is now turning to the 2022 general election. DeWitt wrote to supporters that the campaign would now try to unseat Dunleavy who has filed a bid for a second term as governor. Former Gov. Bill Walker has also filed as has former Anchorage Rep. Les Gara and Libertarian Bill Toien.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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