Effort to recall Dunleavy begins anew

Lange: I don’t know of any leading advocates against it

Statewide efforts to oust Gov. Mike Dunleavy are underway with renewed effort to garner the remaining 22,000 petition signatures allowing for a special election in 2021.

Meda DeWitt, chair of Recall Dunleavy, announced the resurgence of the campaign in Anchorage on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

“We have a new energy flooding in from Alaskans,” she said. “Interest in wanting to make change in this state has gone up exponentially.”

“Happy to participate,” was the response from Cordova businesswoman Sylvia Lange, owner of the Reluctant Fisherman, who cites Dunleavy for lack of support for a number of services critical to Cordova, from education to the Alaska Marine Highway System.

On the first effort in Cordova, some 600 people signed the recall petition in one day, she said.

“I thought for sure we were going to make the ballot (on the first round) and when we didn’t that was a big blow,” Lange said.

That first group of signers was a united cause for our town, and in phase two, “I don’t know of any leading advocates against it,” she said.

The second recall effort initially lost steam due to the growing statewide presence of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but Lange said everyone she has asked says they already signed the second phase signature petition to put the recall question on the ballot.

To speed the collection of signatures the recall committee is continuing to mail out upon request self-signing signature packets with room for 15 signatures, to be returned to the recall committee, DeWitt said.

The governor’s office meanwhile issued a statement on Tuesday, Jan. 19, saying that Dunleavy is doing what he was elected to do and firmly believes his record will withstand any effort to oust him from office.

“While the recall group is focused on politics, the governor is focused on navigating Alaska during one of the worst crises in the state’s history,” Dunleavy said. “Having the second-best vaccination rates in the country, the governor is focused on the safety of seniors and all Alaskans during the pandemic.”

The statement also said that Dunleavy would continue to fight for “the full PFD” and push forward capital budget projects which will stimulate the economy, with an agenda that got him elected in the first place.

According to Scott Kendall, legal counsel for the recall effort, there were certain violations during the initial phase of the recall, including failure to appoint a judge, separation of powers and ethical violations, which were upheld by the Alaska Supreme Court.

“There is no legal barrier remaining to the recall,” Kendall said. “There is no legal recourse to stop it.”

Once the committee has collected those last 22,000 signatures the state Division of Elections will have 30 days to verify them, and then schedule a recall election within 60 to 90 days.

“This (recall) has been and will continue to be a check on this governor trying to eviscerate Alaska,” said Vince Beltrami, a recall steering committee member and president of the Alaska AFL-CIO. He said that the committee hopes to collect those 22,000 signatures within the next eight to 10 weeks.