Update: The group behind the recall has postponed the launch of the signature-gathering effort to Aug. 1 in order to have time to draft a legally solid recall statement. The Monday night event is still planned, but will serve largely as an informational and organizational session.
“It’s time to hold him accountable for his lies,” reads the landing page of dunleavylied.com, the newly launched website of a group hoping to recall Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy.
The group publicly announced its efforts on Thursday night after the Alaska Legislature, still split between Juneau and the Wasilla special session called by Dunleavy, failed to muster enough votes to override the more than $400 million in vetoes that have been called an attack on Alaska.
The website says it is paid for by Future North PAC, a group that was formed earlier this year with the purpose to “support candidates, causes, legislation, and groups with a forward-looking, pro-Alaska vision to build a prosperous and sustainable future for all Alaskans,” according to its registration forms.
The recall effort will first need to collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the previous general election, or 28,501 signatures, to be considered for certification. It announced an event in Anchorage at Writer’s Block on from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to begin the collection of the initial signatures. Once that is done, the group will need to collect signatures equaling a whopping 25 percent of the previous general election, 71,252 signatures.
Though the recall election is focused on the vetoes and a long list of stark differences between the promises made by candidate Dunleavy and actions taken by Governor Dunleavy, the bar for qualifying a recall election will be trickier than corralling public outrage.
According to state law, the grounds for recall include lack of fitness, incompetence, neglect of duties or corruption.
It’s likely that the effort will be more focused on actions like Dunleavy’s refusal to appoint judges on time, his vindictive vetoes targeting the courts or his use of public dollars to run (and likely continue to run) political campaigns targeting legislators and legislative caucuses. Any justification can be challenged by the Dunleavy administration and its allies, meaning the matter would likely head to the courts.
The recall petition itself must be approved by the director of the Division of Elections, which reports to Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer. Meyer, a relatively mainstream pro-business Republican, has kept a low-profile throughout Dunleavy’s tenure. He could also be targeted by a recall but is not currently.
Once the 71,252 signatures have been turned in and certified, the Division of Elections would have between 60 and 90 days to call a special election to remove Dunleavy from office.
The effort to recall Dunleavy has been swirling for some time.
A closed Facebook group called “Alaskans for Recalling Governor Mike Dunleavy” was created on Feb. 13, 2019, the same day that Dunleavy announced the details of his budget. The budget was widely unpopular and many legislators, even those who’ve now refused to help override the vetoes, said it was unrealistic and damaging to Alaska.
The organizational efforts on Facebook moved into the public at the Alaskans Take A Stand group.
Many of the vetoes ended up cutting the Legislature’s budget down to the governor’s proposal even though the administration failed to ever fully explain the vetoes or the impact on Alaska. Legislators complained during the joint sessions on the override vote that they’re still being stonewalled by the administration when trying to get answers about the budget and the vetoes.
Dunleavy’s long-declining approval rating took a nosedive after the release of the vetoes, according to a poll conducted in the days before and after the cuts were announced. His approval rating fell from 41 percent to 31 percent while his disapproval rating spiked above 60 percent.