A statewide campaign to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy will launch Thursday with signature gathering events scheduled across the state.

The recall process in Alaska requires a number of specific steps, the first of which is to gather 10 percent of voters who participated in the last election, equaling 28,501 based on the last election's voter turnout. That effort begins Thursday and will continue until signatures have been gathered and an application can be sent to the the director of the Division of Elections.

While those who sign the petition are required to be registered voters, they are not required to have voted in the last election.

State law designates only a few legal grounds upon which a public official can be recalled: lack of fitness, incompetence, neglect of duties and corruption.

According to Meda DeWitt, chair of the recall effort, the group is going with the first three.

"We basically have four specific items that's under those three headers and they're severable, so there's actually 12 items that could be tried in a court of law if it's challenged," DeWitt said.

Specifically, the group points to Dunleavy's failure to appoint a judge within a statutory time frame and the use of his veto power to reduce funding for the courts after a ruling on abortion funding with which he disagreed.

"There's also the misuse of state funds where he used money to pay for partisan ads electronically in social media circles and in mailers that promoted or shamed other political figures, like the legislators, thus he was using his government fund to induce behaviors in the Legislature by funding ads," DeWitt said.

DeWitt added that even though the official website for the recall effort only launched Wednesday morning, she's received significant support.

"Just within the first hour and a half brought in $2,000 in donations just from the website alone," DeWitt said. "I'm absolutely impressed with how keen Alaskans are to get this done. They want to know where to sign up, they want to sign up now, they want him out now."

As of deadline Wednesday, the Daily News-Miner had not received a response to a message seeking comment from the governor's office.

A number of local Fairbanksans have joined the effort.

Aaron Welterlen, one of the coordinators of the Fairbanks effort, said he got involved just a few weeks ago. Even though he had been thinking about how to get Dunleavy recalled since the governor's budget was released in February, he said the recall effort really didn't start gathering momentum until after the vetoes were released.

Welterlen noted that the group of coordinators and organizers spans multiple political parties, which says to him that the issue goes beyond political leanings.

"What we wanted this to be was a nonpartisan organization where it doesn't matter where you are on the political spectrum; we're doing this for the betterment of Alaska. Just doing this to basically protect this state," Welterlen told the Daily News-Miner Wednesday.

While the group had not published an official campaign disclosure form as of Wednesday, Welterlen noted that a number of prominent Fairbanks players are involved in the effort. He declined to provide names.

On a statewide level, significant names involved with the effort include Joe Usibelli Sr., chairman of the Usibelli Coal Mine board of directors; former Democratic state senator and 1955 Alaska Constitutional Convention Delegate Vic Fischer; and former Republican state Sen. Arliss Sturgulewski.

"I would say the overall feedback, the overwhelming majority of people appear to be in favor of a recall," Welterlen said. "There's so much support in Fairbanks across the board."

By 6 p.m. Wednesday, a Facebook event entitled "Recall Dunleavy - Fairbanks - Signature Gathering Event" had garnered more than 1,500 individuals who had marked "interested" or "going" to the event.

The event will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday just inside the main gates of Pioneer Park, according to a news release from the campaign group. More information can be found at www.recalldunleavy.org.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.

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