Alaska Supreme Court allows Recall Dunleavy to begin collecting signatures

A protester holds a sign during a speech by Gov. Mike Dunleavy at the 2019 Alaska Federation of Natives Conference at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. On Friday, Feb. 14, the Alaska Supreme Court issued an order allowing the recall campaign to begin collecting signatures. (Photo by Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media)

Update (Feb. 18, 10:51 a.m.) — Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media

The organization opposing the recall campaign against Gov. Mike Dunleavy has told its lawyers to withdraw its appeal of the recall. Stand Tall with Mike said in a statement that “the public is better served by devoting resources to educating the public why this recall is unjustified (and) a waste of public resources.” (Read more)

Original story

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 Mar. 9. Oral arguments will be held on Mar. 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 to 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.”

The order says that, to stop the signature gathering, 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 today’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.

This story has been updated.


Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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