The effort to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy sprung back into action following the Alaska Supreme Court ruling on May 8 which dismissed state challenges over the legal grounds cited for removing Alaska’s governor.
The recall effort has been severely curtailed during the initial stages of the COVID-19 crisis, but following the court’s split decision, Recall Dunleavy mailed petition booklets to more than 20,000 Alaskans to sign and return. Ads announcing arrival of petitions have been launched on television and radio stations across the state.
The campaign has the backing of left-leaning groups like Planned Parenthood and the IBEW union. Planned Parenthood, Alaska’s largest provider of abortions, has hosted multiple events in order to help collect signatures. The IBEW has donated to the effort, according to state records.
The petition cites four reasons why the governor opponents think he should be removed in a special election. One deals with Dunleavy’s veto of the Alaska Court System’s budget. The recall group claims Dunleavy “violated separation-of-powers by improperly using the line-item veto to attack the judiciary and the rule of law.” According to the recall campaign, Dunleavy’s reason for the veto – his stated disagreement with the court’s 2018 decision requiring the state to pay for elective abortions – was tantamount to attacking the court’s independence. Dunleavy’s attorney’s, however, argued the governor is fully within his constitutionally guaranteed rights to line item veto a portion of the court’s budget.
Other reasons cited for the recall include: refusing to appoint a judge to the Palmer Superior Court within 45 days of receiving nominations, misusing state funds to purchase political ads, and mistakenly vetoing $18 million more from last year’s budget than what Dunleavy told the Legislature in official communications.
Justice Craig Stowers disagreed, in part, with the high court’s decision to let the recall effort go forward. He did not think there were grounds for a recall based on separation of powers or the mistaken $18 million veto, which was corrected.
Recall activists must now collect at least 71,252 valid signatures in order to put the issue to a statewide vote. So far, the group claims to have more than 34,000 signatures. If successful, a special election would be held within 60 to 90 days after the signatures are submitted. The last day for supporters to turn in signatures for the recall is June 8, 2022.