Sunday, February 23, 2020

Alaska: Signature gathering begins against Governor; Pro-Governor group drops part in Supreme Court case

Some major developments that suggests that the recall effort may be able clear the Alaska Supreme Court and get a recall on the ballot against Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R).

Signature booklets were handed out by the Division of Elections to allow signatures to be gathered against the Governor. This followed the Alaska Supreme Court ruling overturning a stay to prevent signatures collection from beginning.

At the same time, Stand Tall with Mike, the pro-Dunleavy independent expenditure group, has withdrawn its appeal and seems to be dropping out from the court case against the recall. The case will still go on, as the Alaska Attorney General is appealing a ruling that says that the recall can continue. However, the fact that the big anti-recall group is moving away from the courts and into the realm of public opinion suggests that they may believe that the court case will not go their way.

It could be that the group is dropping out to try to at least ensure that the recall is not delayed too much and instead takes place at the same time as the general election rather than as a special election. There is a belief, that incumbents are disproportionately disadvantaged by special elections and will do better during a general election. I long thought this as well, but my research suggests that this is not the case and incumbents actually do worse when a recall takes place on a General Election or Primary Day. That said, the logic of trying to have a recall on the General Election date is clearly sound. Alaska voters will undoubtedly vote Republican by double digits in the presidential election (with the exception of Johnson in 1964, the state has never voted for a Democrat). This could only help Dunleavy in warding off a recall vote.

The recall is over major spending cuts, delays in appointing judges misusing state funds and mistakenly vetoing funds. Alaska is a malfeasance standard/judicial recall state, so a showing of cause is needed (though the state courts has taken a lenient view of the the cause requirement in past instances).

Petitioners needed to first get 28,501 signatures. If the decision is upheld, they would need 71,252 signatures to get to the ballot. Note that of the 49,006 signatures that they've already received, a third were by Democrats. If Dunleavy were recalled, there would not be a replacement race. Instead, the Lieutenant Governor (a Republican) would automatically be moved up to Governor.

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