Effort to Recall Alaska Governor Hits Roadblock

JUNEAU, Alaska (CN) – Leaders of the effort to recall Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy say they will sue after the Alaska Division of Elections Monday declined to certify a petition to oust the Republican from office.

Protesters unfurl a banner in March 2019 as Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy speaks during a roadshow with Americans for Prosperity in 49th State Brewing Company in Anchorage, Alaska. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)

Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said she based her decision on the legal opinion of Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson. 

“The application complies with the technical requirements of the recall statutes,” Clarkson stated. “But, because the grounds of recall fails to satisfy the legal standards required for a recall, we recommend that certification of the application be denied.”

According to the Alaska law, the grounds necessary for recall are neglect of duty, incompetence or lack of fitness. 

“The recall application failed to make these showings. The grounds of incompetence and lack of fitness, as a matter of law, were not applicable here,” Clarkson wrote.

Claire Pywell, the recall campaign manager, said attorneys for the effort intend to file an appeal Tuesday in Anchorage Superior Court.

“Without question, the recall application submitted to the Division of Elections meets the standard under Alaska law,” recall attorney and former Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth said in a written statement. “This rejection is without basis, and we will now turn to the courts for a remedy. We do so with confidence that we will receive fair treatment and we will prevail.”

Dunleavy said in a statement that Clarkson’s opinion appears well-reasoned. 

“We will continue governing the state as we have since the election in a manner that is consistent with the fundamentals of good government,” he said.

Recall supporters gathered more than 49,000 signatures, nearly twice as many as the 28,501 required to submit the petition that lays out the grounds for a recall, including neglect of duties, incompetence and lack of fitness to be governor. 

They claim Dunleavy violated Alaska law by refusing to appoint a judge to the Palmer Superior Court within 45 days of receiving nominations; violated separation of powers by improperly using line-item vetoes to attack the court system after an abortion ruling he did not like; and preventing the Legislature from upholding its constitutional health, education and welfare responsibilities.

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