Vic Fischer, left, Meda DeWitt, middle, and Aaron Welterlen, leaders of an effort to recall Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, are shown awaiting paperwork at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Anchorage, Alaska, on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. Recall organizers say they submitted 49,0006 signatures in in an attempt to force the recall election of the first-term governor. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Vic Fischer, left, Meda DeWitt, middle, and Aaron Welterlen, leaders of an effort to recall Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, are shown awaiting paperwork at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Anchorage, Alaska, on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. Recall organizers say they submitted 49,0006 signatures in in an attempt to force the recall election of the first-term governor. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Recall Dunleavy campaign submits 49,000 signatures

If the application is certified, it would trigger another signature-gathering phase.

  • Friday, September 6, 2019 12:06am
  • News

JUNEAU — Supporters of an effort to recall Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy submitted signatures to a state elections office Thursday, an early step in their push.

The Recall Dunleavy group said it collected 49,006 signatures since launching Aug. 1, more than the 28,501 needed as part of the initial phase of the recall effort. The group has said it gathered additional signatures, in part, to compensate for any that might be disqualified.

Supporters gathered in Anchorage in the parking lot of Cook Inlet Region Inc., an Alaska Native corporation whose board of directors has endorsed the recall effort, before marching to a nearby elections office to drop off boxes of signatures. Afterward, they sang the Alaska state song.

Vic Fischer, the last surviving delegate to the Alaska constitutional Convention, called the effort a “phenomenal outpouring of citizenship,” with Alaskans coming together “to get rid of this dark cloud that has descended over Alaska.”

A message seeking comment was sent to Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow. The Republican Dunleavy took office in December.

Shuckerow has said Dunleavy was elected as an “agent of change” and that the administration was “focused on empowering Alaskans” through the agenda on which Dunleavy ran. He cited public safety, addressing the budget and a payout to residents from the state’s oil-wealth fund in line with a longstanding calculation that has not been followed since 2016 as the state has dealt with a budget deficit.

Public anger over Dunleavy budget vetoes helped fuel the recall effort, which accuses Dunleavy of separation-of-powers violations and breaking state law by not appointing a judge within a statutory timeframe, among other things. Grounds for recall under state law are lack of fitness, incompetence, neglect of duties or corruption.

The Division of Elections said it will begin the signature verification process and request from the Department of Law an opinion on whether the grounds for recall listed in the application meet legal requirements. Director Gail Fenumiai said the goal is to complete that process in 60 days.

The division said the law does not set a deadline for reviewing the application but that it historically has treated recall applications as it would initiative applications and completed reviews in the same time frame.

Attorneys for the recall campaign, in a letter to Fenumiai, said they considered 30 days ample time for the review to be completed. Recall attorneys include Scott Kendall and Jahna Lindemuth, who served in former Gov. Bill Walker’s administration. Walker immediately preceded Dunleavy as governor.

If the application is certified, it would trigger another signature-gathering phase, with supporters needing 71,252 signatures in a bid to put the issue to voters. Individuals who signed during the first round of signature-gathering would be allowed to sign again, said Cori Mills, a Department of Law spokeswoman.

Regarding the review process, Mills pointed to a 2013 department analysis of an effort to recall a state legislator, which in addition to ensuring proper signatures and other technical requirements had been met considered whether the claims were sufficiently stated.

Aaron Welterlen, a recall organizer from Fairbanks, said he expected the issue to go to court if the application is denied. He brushed off suggestions of any concerns about gathering a higher threshold of signatures if the application is approved and the process advances.

“Winter? Hey we’re Alaskans. It’ll be cold and dark. We’ll just find new ways to do it indoors,” he said.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there have been many attempts to recall governors, but few have gone far enough to trigger recall elections. Then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survived a recall election in 2012.

In 1992, there was an effort in Alaska to recall then-Gov. Wally Hickel and Lt. Gov Jack Coghill. According to the Division of Elections, the application was certified and the matter went to court, but the recall attempt was not completed.

More in News

Daily school district COVID-19 risk levels: Aug. 3

Risk levels are based on COVID cases reported in a community and determine how schools will operate.

A fire crew can be seen here at a containment line for the Swan Lake Fire in this undated photo. (Courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management)
Fire crew’s departure highlights different wildfire season

With fire season winding down, state sends firefigthers south

Photos by Jeff Helminiak / Peninsula Clarion 
                                Part of a newly installed interagency public lands display at the Kenai Municipal Airport.
Kenai airport gets public lands display

The murals stretch from floor to ceiling in the ticketing area of the newly remodeled airport.

File
Seward extends emergency restrictions

Emergency ordinance 2020-009 was adopted unanimously by the city council on July 27.

COVID-19. (CDC)
State reports 1 new COVID death, no new peninsula cases

The person who died was an Anchorage man who was in his 70s.

Image via Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Daily school district COVID-19 risk levels: Aug. 1

Risk levels are based on COVID cases reported in a community and determine how schools will operate.

Rep. Gary Knopp is seen in this undated photo. (Photo courtesy Jayme Jones)
Lawmakers remember colleague killed in crash

State Rep. Gary Knopp, who represented Kenai-Soldotna area, was one of seven people killed Friday.

COVID week in review: Cases climb; state reports new deaths

18 new hospitalizations and four deaths associated with COVID-19 were reported this week.

A screengrab of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintedent John O’Brien announcing in a Thursday, July 30, 2020 video that masks will be required in school buildings this fall, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Schools to require masks, face coverings

Masks are now mandatory for all staff and students in third grade and higher.

Most Read