The campaign behind the effort to recall Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy has announced that it’s collected the necessary signatures for the first phase of the effort to remove the Republican from office.
The Recall Dunleavy campaign announced tonight that it has gathered 29,577 signatures, which is more than the 28,501 needed to submit the recall application to the Alaska Division of Elections and get the larger petition process underway.
The signature-gathering effort began two weeks ago, spurred by outrage over the governor’s first year in office that ranged from his handling of vetoes to ignoring laws related to judicial appointments and using state funds for a political campaign targeting his enemies in the Legislature.
Enthusiasm for the recall has been high since its launch day, when the group reportedly gathered 10,000 signatures. Since then, smaller volunteer-run events have been held throughout the state. The announcement highlights the work of Fairbanks-area volunteers more than 5,000 people have signed the petition.
“None of our success would be possible without all our dedicated volunteers, as well as you Alaskans,” said Aaron Welterlen, lead Fairbanks volunteer organizer for Recall Dunleavy, in a prepared statement. “From the Fairbanks Recall Dunleavy effort, I thank every single one of you.”
Even though the vast majority of Dunleavy’s vetoes don’t play into the legal grounds of the recall, they’ve served to fuel enthusiasm for the recall and united a bipartisan team of heavy hitters for the effort.
Dunleavy’s walked back some of the vetoes this week, phrasing it as a “restoration” of funds. He’s said he won’t veto for a second time the funding for the University of Alaska, early education, senior benefits and legal services for poor Alaskans. Dunleavy vetoed $444 million from the budget in late June and the Alaska Legislature put back most of that funding passed by the Alaska Legislature in late July.
The governor said it’s thanks to his “conversation”-creating vetoes that it’s now clear that Alaskans’ support children, in-crisis families and the elderly. Large protests across the state, dozens of hours of public testimony and tens of thousands of emails and calls have been voicing opposition to Dunleavy’s budget since it was released in February.
The Recall Dunleavy group isn’t planning on submitting the application immediately, according to the release, and plans to continue to collect signatures through the end of the Alaska State Fair (on Sept. 2). This will help the group build a buffer of additional signatures in case some are disqualified.
Once the application is submitted, the matter goes to the Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai, who reports to Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, for review. Regardless of Fenumiai’s decision, it’s likely the matter will be challenged legally.
If and when the application is approved, the group will need to collect 71,252 signatures from eligible Alaska voters. Once those are turned in and certified, a special election would be called with 60 to 90 days.