President Donald Trump tweeted his support of Gov. Mike Dunleavy Wednesday morning.
Calling Dunleavy “his friend,” the president said the governor is being treated “very unfairly” by Democrats in regards to the Recall Dunleavy campaign.
“He is doing an unbelievable job and filling every one of his promises,” Trump said in his tweet. “Now they are trying to Recall him because his agenda is the Economy, Jobs and protecting our Military, 2nd Amendment, Energy and so many other things the Democrats don’t care about.”
At the end of his second tweet in support of the governor, Trump included a link to the Stand Tall with Mike campaign, a fundraising site to combat the Recall Dunleavy campaign.
The Recall campaign began on Aug. 1, in response to “Governor Dunleavy’s sudden, severe, and sometimes illegal budget cuts (that) have caused tremendous harm to Alaska and Alaskans,” according to an open letter from the campaign.
In July, Dunleavy announced over $400 million in cuts to the state budget to try to balance the budget, setting off a wave of protests statewide. Ultimately the governor cut $650 million in state spending causing significant budget issues for state services like the Alaska Marine Highway System and the University of Alaska.
The campaign started during a tumultuous special legislative session which saw significant in-fighting between not just Democrats and Republicans, but within the Alaska Republican Party itself.
In the tweet, Trump says the Democrats are trying to remove the governor from office but the Recall Campaign says on its website it is a nonpartisan organization. Former Republican state senator from Anchorage, Arliss Sturgulewski, is a Recall Dunleavy campaign co-chair, according to the group’s website.
Dunleavy has been appearing on media outside of Alaska recently, including Fox News and Breitbart. Asked if Dunleavy was currently in Washington, or had recently spoken with the president, Jeff Turner, Deputy Communications Director for the governor, said in an email Wednesday morning the governor is currently on a personal trip. Turner said he had no further information.
In his interview with Breitbart, Dunleavy compared his approach to government to Trump’s, and said attempts to recall him were similar to attacks on the president.
“The bottom line is this, just like the president — he wasn’t supposed to win. He was not within the establishment. He was not part of the swamp,” Dunleavy told Breitbart. “What people fail to realize, President Trump and what we’re trying to do up here is to work on behalf of the average American and average Alaskan — not the special interests.”
In his appearance on Fox News, Dunleavy blamed the recall campaign on “special interests,” that are tied to state spending. Similar language appears on the Stand Tall With Mike website.
In an open letter published Wednesday, the Recall Dunleavy campaign responded to the governor’s comments and appearances on national media.
“We cannot ignore Governor Dunleavy’s recent push to spread misinformation about us and appeal to media in the Lower 48, rather than speaking with Alaskans about the issues our state faces,” the letter says. “This movement is not fueled by ‘special interests.’ We are regular Alaskans; and we are Alaskans before we are Republicans, Democrats, Nonpartisan, or Unaffiliated voters.”
Jim Dodson, president and CEO of the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation, is a registered Republican and serves on the Recall Dunleavy campaign’s steering committee.
Dodson told the Empire Wednesday that he and several other Republicans he knew were involved with the Recall campaign.
”There’s an awful lot of people involved with the Recall campaign who are certainly not liberals,” he said. Dodson pointed to the 49,006 signatures already collected by the recall effort, saying the number reflected a broad section of Alaskans.
In response to the governor’s claim that special interests are behind the recall, Dodson dismissed the comment saying, “that would be a good campaign slogan” for the governor.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.