Dunleavy recall event in Fairbanks

Many people mingled about, chatting with friends and fellow opponents of Gov. Mike Dunleavy at Fairbanks’ official kickoff for the Recall Dunleavy Campaign, Thursday afternoon in Pioneer Park. Aug. 1, 2019. Robin Wood for the News-Miner

The group that launched an effort to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy says it plans to submit signatures and a 200-word legal brief to the Division of Elections on Thursday, just over a month after launching a statewide campaign.

According to a Tuesday news release, the group plans to gather with supporters in Anchorage before walking to the Division of Elections office to turn in signatures and a legal filing outlining alleged reasons for recall.

Recall Dunleavy Fairbanks Coordinator Aaron Welterlen said in an interview Tuesday that the first step of the campaign, which began Aug. 1, was "incredible" and exceeded expectations.

"Really it shouldn't be a surprise to us at all, in all essence Fairbanks came together in full Alaskan fashion and showed that we feel that this governor needed to be recalled," he said.

While the group will not know for some time whether initial signatures and the legal brief have been approved –– the signature verification and approval process can take up to six weeks –– Welterlen said he feels confident about stage two.

"I think stage two will be obviously a lot of work, stage one was a lot of work, but I think with the enthusiasm and outpouring of support we saw during stage one, we will be seeing a lot of the same and should be able to be successful in stage two as well," Welterlen said.

If the courts approve the brief and verify the signatures, the group will then be required to collect signatures from 25% of the number of voters in the last general election, or 71,253.

In arguing for recall, the group outlines three central reasons it believes Dunleavy should no long be governor: neglect of duties, incompetence and lack of fitness.

Specifically, the group points to Dunleavy's failure to appoint a judge within a statutory time frame, violation of state law in using state dollars to fund partisan political ads, and violation of the separation of powers clause by using his veto power to reduce funding for the courts after a ruling on abortion funding with which he disagreed.

As of Tuesday, the number of gathered signatures had not yet been updated from the Aug. 22 announcement of 36,731. Welterlen said the number will be updated and published after the final signatures are turned in Thursday.

Stage one of the recall process required the collection of 10% of the number of voters in the state's last election –– 28,501.

While the first stage of the recall effort did not have a deadline, stage two will. If the reasons for recall and collection of signatures is approved, the group will have up to 180 days prior to the end of Dunleavy's term as governor to turn in the final 71,253 signatures.

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