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Dunleavy recall slows to a crawl as coronavirus cancels events

Susan Reilly, wearing a yellow coat, and other volunteers collect signatures for the Recall Dunleavy group on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020 at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. The group is beginning its second round of signature-gathering for a vote to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and everyone who previously signed would need to sign again. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

The campaign seeking to remove Gov. Mike Dunleavy from office has stopped most signature-gathering in an attempt to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

In a series of social media messages, campaign chairwoman Meda DeWitt said events statewide have been canceled. That move follows action last week to suspend signature-gathering events in Anchorage.

“It was just so clear that we have to put the health of our volunteers and Alaska’s public first,” said campaign manager Claire Pywell.

Pywell said Alaskans with signature booklets could continue to take signatures on a “one-on-one basis” if their wife, husband or daughter want to sign while they’re staying home.

Keep Dunleavy, the group supporting the governor, suspended its campaign March 15 under instructions from the governor.

Recall Dunleavy, the group seeking to remove the governor, needs the signatures of at least 71,252 registered Alaska voters in order to force a statewide vote. If the governor is removed, Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer would become governor.

The legality of the recall campaign has been challenged, and the Alaska Supreme Court is scheduled to consider the issue next week.

In an order issued Thursday morning, the Supreme Court said oral arguments will take place on schedule, but attorneys will participate by telephone, and the general public will be allowed to watch events only by television and online.

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