Alaska’s top court ruled political opponents of the Last Frontier’s Republican governor are legally permitted to pursue a recall election campaign on July 16.
The state’s Supreme Court confirmed the recall campaign against Gov. Mike Dunleavy is legitimate and may proceed. The decision came despite the governor only having about 17 months left in his tenure.
The judge claimed it is up to the voters to decide if Dunleavy is truly inept, corrupt, and dismissible from public office.
“People [who] asked to sign petitions must decide whether the allegations are serious enough to warrant a recall election,” the decision said according to Reuters. “Each voter in the voting booth must decide whether the allegations are serious enough to warrant removal from office.”
The former Wasilla teacher, school administrator, and lawmaker was elected as governor back in 2018. He established himself as a political disciple of then-President Donald Trump. However, his term has arguably been tumultuous, with Alaska suffering financially and relying on diminishing oil income.
His opponents claim the Republican should be removed from office because he is incompetent and misused his position. Dunleavy is accused of inappropriately using his budget veto to penalize judges for supporting abortion rights in their judgments. He also allegedly violated ethics laws by exploiting state funds for partisan campaign reasons, according to recall advocates.
To qualify for a gubernatorial recall in the Alaska ballot, campaigners must first collect petition signatures totalling 10% of votes cast at the last statewide election. They then must collect signatures totaling 25% of the votes cast. As of April, the Recall Dunleavy campaign collected 81% of the necessary second-phase signatures.
Dunleavy criticized the court’s decision, claiming it would expose future elected officials to “baseless, expensive, and distracting recall elections by their political opponents.”
“The court has made it clear that even plainly false allegations of wrongdoing can trigger this process,” he said in a statement. “[This is] undermining our election process, and prevents our elected officials from focusing on the many serious issues facing Alaskans.”
Earlier in 2021 Dunleavy experienced other difficulties separate to the potential recall. He rejected the whole Alaska Permanent Fund dividend, a beloved oil-wealth gift to citizens provided yearly since 1982, during a battle with the state Legislature.
Alaska’s business climate ranked the worst of all 50 states according to CNBC. The broadcaster reported Dunleavy “relentlessly slashed” University of Alaska funding and made other questionable judgments.