Judge rules in favor of effort to recall Alaska governor

Judge rules in favor of effort to recall Alaska governor
© Office of Michael Dunleavy

An Alaska judge Friday ruled in favor of an effort to recall Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R), saying the Division of Elections was wrong to reject the campaign. 

“This is a question for the voters, and the constitution makes that very clear,” said Anchorage Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth.

While the new ruling is expected to be appealed, Aarseth’s decision will allow recall supporters to begin another round of collecting signatures to try to force a special election to replace Dunleavy, who took office in late 2018. 

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Recall supporters need 71,252 registered voters to sign for a recall, amounting to 25 percent of the number of voters in the last general election. Nearly 50,000 people signed a first round of petitioning that was required for the Division of Elections to consider the recall application. 

Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R) would replace Dunleavy if he were removed. 

Dunleavy supporters are expected to request the court to order that signature-gathering be halted during the appeals process, a move Aarseth said he would not be willing to approve but the Supreme Court might consider.

Recall Dunleavy, the group advocating for the governor’s removal, says the incumbent broke the law by failing to appoint a judge within a mandated time frame, misused state funds for online ads and mailers and abused his veto authority to “attack the judiciary.”

Alaska law says that recalls for public officials can take place over lack of fitness, incompetence, neglect of duties or corruption. 

Aarseth clarified that his ruling is focused strictly on the recall effort and not a political process. 

“I’m not weighing whether any of the allegations made by the plaintiff are true or false. I’m not making any judgments on whether the elected official is doing a good job or not,” he said.