Daily News is wrong, Dunleavy recall is the best option for political change

The Anchorage Daily News claims in a editorial that supporters of the Recall Dunleavy campaign would be far better off directing all of their efforts toward electing new legislators in 2020 who won’t follow the lead of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Drop the recall, the newspaper suggests. It is a “potentially fruitless” endeavor. It will be hard to get the signatures. The Dunleavy administration will oppose it all the way. The delays could last until 2021. it would be easier to make sure that more than three-quarters of those elected to the Legislature in 2020 are willing to oppose Dunleavy.

The Anchorage Daily News editorial board, led by company CEO Ryan Binkley, is wrong on all of this except for the statement that the Dunleavy administration will fight the recall. The newspaper opposition to the recall, a movement that should be allowed to play out without interference from Dunleavy, is shortsighted.

There are already super majorities in the Legislature that tried to stop nearly every major budget element of the Dunleavy Disaster.

Reducing the Dunleavy faction of the Legislature to below 15 members to guarantee that all vetoes could be overridden, as suggested by the editorial, is not a sensible substitute for the recall. The legislative makeover would be even harder than a statewide recall.

The specific grounds identified by the recall campaign are much stronger than those deemed suitable during the last statewide recall. The legal questions are fairly simple and the courts will not allow the governor to drag this out for years.

It is worth noting that former Lt. Gov. Jack Coghill was found eligible for recall by the courts simply because he had made public statements about having never read the election statutes. One of the few specific duties of the Lite Gov. is to oversee elections. The Coghill recall, which never advanced, did not have the public support that the Dunleavy recall has.

In this case, the strongest claim against Dunleavy is that he refused to follow the law and appoint a judge on the required timeline. The facts are not in doubt and the history of recall cases in Alaska shows a preference by the courts to allow recall campaigns to advance to the ballot.

The legal issues could very well be settled in months, not years. This is not merely about the wishes of the co-chairs, but of the nearly 50,000 Alaskans who signed the petitions in little more than a month.

The campaign spent nothing on advertising or promotion. There has never been a groundswell like this in Alaska’s history. I expect the second round of signature gathering will be more difficult, but not impossible.

Whether it will end with the removal of Dunleavy and the ascension of Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer to the top job, I don’t know.

But the recall has already been successful, forcing Dunleavy to repair some of the damage he did with his vetoes in June. The threat of the recall may also force the governor to rethink his plan to lay off thousands of teachers statewide.

Dunleavy ignored months of public testimony about his ill-advised budget and went ahead in June with vetoes opposed by the public and the Legislature. The recall has successfully captured his attention.

Contrary to the claims by the editorial board, the recall is the most effective form of political action open to Alaskans.

Dermot Cole15 Comments