Alaska Supreme Court says judge was wrong to stall recall of Gov. Dunleavy while appeal plays out

Gov. Mike Dunleavy gives his State of the State address on Jan. 27 in the Alaska State Capitol. Dunleavy proposed a lottery in the address, and a bill to launch a lottery was introduced on Wednesday. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

The Alaska Supreme Court issued an order on Friday allowing the campaign to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy to begin collecting signatures.

In a separate filing, the court agreed to hear an appeal seeking to block the recall on a sped-up schedule. The state and Stand Tall with Mike must file their briefs by Feb. 25. Recall Dunleavy must reply by March 9. Oral arguments will be held on March 25.

Recall Dunleavy campaign manager Claire Pywell said the group is grateful.

“The movement is now full-speed ahead, and we’re going to be collecting signatures in February,” she said.

The court directed the state’s Division of Elections to prepare petition booklets immediately for Recall Dunleavy.

Pywell expected to receive the booklets in a week.

“We ask all Alaskans to stay tuned, make a plan to sign again, bring those two friends and help us collect these signatures in record time,” she said.

The campaign gathered more than 46,000 signatures to apply for the recall. It will need more than 71,000 to hold a recall election.

Last month Anchorage Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth reversed the state Division of Elections’ decision rejecting the recall. The state and Stand Tall with Mike, an organization supporting the governor, appealed that decision.

Then, Aarseth issued a stay halting the collection of signatures until after the Supreme Court decided on the appeal. Friday’s order allows signature-gathering to proceed.

The order says Aarseth “did not expressly consider the harm to Recall Dunleavy from a stay, and as a result it appears to have applied an incorrect analysis.”

To stop the signature gathering, the order says, Stand Tall with Mike had to show that it would probably win the appeal. And the court says it hadn’t shown that.

Assistant Attorney General Maria Bahr says the Department of Law has communicated with the Division of Elections about Friday’s developments.

“The division is prepared to proceed, according to the order issued by the Alaska Supreme Court lifting stay pending appeal,” she said.

Stand Tall with Mike leaders didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

[Read the Alaska Supreme Court’s order here]

This story has been updated. Reporter Nat Herz contributed to this report.