ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Organizers of an attempt to recall Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy have reinvigorated the effort now that more people are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, prompting the push for a final 22,000 signatures to force a recall election for the first-term Republican.
“We have a new energy flooding in from Alaskans who are coming out of this pandemic and working towards a future that they want to create,” Recall Dunleavy chair Meda DeWitt said during a teleconference Tuesday.
The group said it has collected just under 50,000 signatures so far. To force a recall, they must gather 71,252 signatures in the effort fueled in part by anger over budget cuts proposed by Dunleavy in 2019. Many of the cuts were later moderated or reversed.
“We know that this has been and will continue to be a check on this governor trying to do things to eviscerate the Alaska that we’ve come to know and love,” said Vince Beltrami, a member of the steering committee and an Anchorage labour leader.
“Some of his plans put us on a path still towards fiscal destruction with no real plan on how to get out of it, so all the reasons that we engaged in this from the beginning are still valid,” he said.
Lindsay Williams, chair of the anti-recall group Stand Tall With Mike, declined comment.
The recall group plans to again start collecting signatures in person while observing COVID-19 safety protocols and through the mail, encouraging people to sign the mailed petition and pass it around to adults in their bubble.
There is no deadline for the group to meet the required number of signatures, attorney Scott Kendall said. Once they turn in the required number of signatures, the Alaska Division of Elections has 30 days to verify them.
If the required number of signatures is met, the state must schedule a recall election within 60 to 90 days of the verification date, he said.
Beltrami said they would like to collect the remaining signatures in the next eight to 10 weeks.
Dunleavy is halfway through his term but issues, such as his first attorney general quitting last August amid a texting scandal with a female state employee, add to the initial grounds cited for recall, they said.
“There’s so many things, so many reasons why two more years is way too long,” Beltrami said.
Mark Thiessen, The Associated Press