Campaign ends effort to recall Alaska governor

Campaign ends effort to recall Alaska governor
© Office of Michael Dunleavy

The group that had been campaigning to recall Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) announced Wednesday that it would be dropping the effort, calling on supporters to shift their focus to voting him out of office in next year’s gubernatorial election. 

Meda DeWitt, chair of the Recall Dunleavy committee, wrote in an opinion piece published by the Anchorage Daily News that the decision to end the campaign “was made thoughtfully by the steering committee,” citing challenges with reaching the required number of signatures in order to force a recall vote.

“Even if we gathered all the signatures by Sept. 1, by the time the Division of Elections could verify the signatures, assuming no lawsuit from the governor’s campaign and dark money groups, the state would face a special election with a price tag of $1.5 million at the beginning of 2022,” DeWitt wrote. 

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“Not to mention contending in a grueling election season with millions of dollars that will be spent on political ads,” she added. 

According to DeWitt, the campaign had obtained 62,373 signatures, shy of the 71,252 needed, though steering committee member Joelle Hall told The Associated Press that the group had wanted to obtain extra in case any were thrown out. 

DeWitt wrote Wednesday, “We are calling on Alaskans to rededicate their efforts to denying Dunleavy another term marked by chaos and mismanagement.” 

“Strategically speaking, the recall has done what it was intended to do: protect Alaska and Alaskans from Dunleavy’s complete ineptitude and failure of moral character,” she added. 

The two-year push by the recall committee was centered around several allegations against Dunleavy of mismanagement and neglect of duties, including that he unconstitutionally used his budget veto to punish judges for abortion-rights rulings, and that he used government funds for political purposes. 

The committee also cited several other accusations, including the Republican governor’s alleged cover-up of sexual harassment accusations against former Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson. 

Clarkson resigned in 2020 following media reports that he sent inappropriate text messages to a state employee. 

The Alaska Supreme Court last month dismissed a legal challenge to the recall committee’s campaign, ruling that the group had legally sufficient grounds to call for the governor’s removal. 

Dunleavy, who recently filed a letter of intent to seek re-election next year, had repeatedly condemned the recall effort, and a Wednesday statement from his office said he was “doing what he was elected to do, managing Alaska, especially during these difficult times.” 

“He continued to manage the state through the pandemic, statewide economic difficulties, as well as long standing issues that must be resolved,” his office added, according to the AP. "He always believed his record would withstand any recall effort.”