Recall Dunleavy effort misses deadline to appear in general election

Residents gather on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at a kickoff event for organizers of an effort to Recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

The campaign to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy didn’t gather enough signatures to ensure a spot on the general election ballot. 

The deadline to guarantee a recall vote on Nov. 3 was Tuesday, Aug. 4.

The group Recall Dunleavy gathered 42,680 signatures by July 28, the most recent available number. It needs 71,252 valid signatures to hold an election. 

Recall Dunleavy chair Meda DeWitt said the pandemic made it difficult to gather signatures. 

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“We didn’t do this just to be on a primary or just to be on the general, we did this to hold the governor accountable for his actions or inactions,” DeWitt said. 

In the first 28 days after it received the signatures booklets, Recall Dunleavy said it gathered 30,200 signatures, or more than 1,000 per day. In the next four months, it gathered 12,480, or fewer than 100 per day. At that pace, Recall Dunleavy would not reach its goal for more than a year. 

But DeWitt said she’s hopeful it will happen sooner than that. She said Dunleavy’s handling of the pandemic and how he handles the state budget will cause more Alaskans to sign. 

“The people still want to move forward,” she said. “And so we’re just moving at a pace that is slow but steady. And the numbers keep increasing, so we can’t ask for anything more than that.”

A special election would be held if Recall Dunleavy submits enough signatures after the deadline for the general election but before the middle of next April. 

DeWitt said Recall Dunleavy has mostly been gathering signatures through outdoor and drive-through events as well as signatures sheets that voters can request by mail

“The recall is in place to make sure that he’s listening to the people, and to embolden the people and force him to listen,” DeWitt said. “If we go away just because of lackadaisical, you know, whatever, then he’s going to go back to his original stance and his original agenda that he brought in.”

Alaska Republican Party Chairman Glenn Clary said Dunleavy hasn’t wavered from his agenda, and it’s his actions as governor that have slowed down the recall. 

“It speaks to the governor’s character, his leadership and his integrity,” Clary said. “And the people of Alaska see that, they see what he’s doing for the state of Alaska, and his leadership ability. And I think it’s become clear to them that this governor cares for the state of Alaska and he’s putting his heart and soul into this state.”