Organizers of the effort to remove Gov. Mike Dunleavy from office announced Thursday that one week after launching, they had gathered more than 18,000 signatures and were more than two-thirds toward completing a first-round signature drive.
“It’s fair to say that Alaska has never seen anything quite like this,” said Scott Kendall, attorney for Recall Dunleavy and previously chief of staff to former Gov. Bill Walker.
The recall effort gained a prominent supporter Wednesday when the board of a major Alaska Native regional corporation, Cook Inlet Region Inc., announced it was endorsing the campaign.
Anchorage officials with the recall group said Thursday they had 18,198 signatures in hand. Close to 2,000 additional signatures had yet to be mailed in from cities and towns outside Anchorage, said Meda DeWitt, chair of Recall Dunleavy, in a statement.
The recall effort was organized in the wake of Dunleavy’s deep budget cuts and other actions. The grounds-for-recall statement lists grievances against Dunleavy involving “neglect of duties, incompetence, and lack of fitness.”
The governor has said he does not think the effort will meet legal standards to appear on the ballot.
His spokesman, Matt Shuckerow, previously said in a statement: “While some will focus on political gamesmanship, Gov. Dunleavy’s administration is focused on empowering Alaskans through the agenda he ran on, including addressing Alaska’s unsustainable budget, improving public safety, growing the economy, fighting for pro-business policies, and championing a full statutory PFD.”
Volunteers collected signatures in more than 70 communities, DeWitt said.
To apply with the Division of Elections, organizers need to gather 28,501 signatures from registered voters, or 10% of the number of voters in the state’s last general election.
If the petition is certified, and survives potential legal battles, the organizers must complete a second round of signature-gathering, this one acquiring signatures of 71,252 registered voters, or 25% of the number of voters in the last general election.
That will also need to be certified before an election could be held.
The group said it has raised more than $25,000 in small donations from over 270 Alaskans since launching a week ago.
A recall effort that make significant headway toward removing a governor came in 1992 when disgruntled voters attempted to oust Gov. Wally Hickel and Lt. Gov. Jack Coghill. Then, citizens needed a year to collect the roughly 20,000 signatures to complete the first round of signature-gathering, news accounts show. The state Division of Elections certified the application that year, but the effort later fizzled.