Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s state-paid apologist, Matt Shuckerow, dismissed the Recall Dunleavy campaign as “political showmanship” in a statement to the Anchorage Daily News.
That’s one way to energize the 10,000 Alaskans who signed the petition on opening day and to encourage thousands more to join them.
The last time something like this happened to an Alaska governor was in 1991-92, but the recall aimed at Gov. Wally Hickel never had this kind of momentum. It took more than a year to get 25,000 signatures for a recall application. Court challenges followed and the Recall Hickel effort fizzled because the coalition backing it was not broad-based enough to abide.
The effort this time is starting much faster and it will endure. Plus, the grounds to recall Dunleavy are specific, meaning there is a much better chance they will withstand court review.
My prediction is that the 28,501 signatures needed for an application will be gathered before long and Attorney General Kevin Clarkson will decide, after a great deal of hoo-ha, that there are no legal grounds for a recall.
The attorney general is in sync with the governor, who will also claim there are no legal grounds for a recall. No one who has ever faced a recall thinks it should be allowed.
After Clarkson’s hoo-ha, the courts will reject his claims and the recall supporters will face the enormous task of gathering about 71,252 signatures to force an election. This is a difficult political challenge, as it should be.
It is only happening because the governor and his staff have made a series of terrible policy and budget choices, topped by the hiring of budget director pro tem Donna Arduin.
The attempt to portray the recall campaign as illegitimate is just the latest Dunleavy mistake.
“Sadly, at all levels of government, we’ve seen the inability to have legitimate policy differences,” Dunleavy’s apologist moaned to the Daily News. “Governor Dunleavy was elected as an agent of change, refusing to accept the status quo and keenly focused on addressing the challenges the many before him have been unwilling to tackle.”
Sadly, there is little truth in that statement. As an “agent of change,” Dunleavy has changed everything he promised about the budget as a candidate. He has also made a liar out of former Gov. Sean Parnell, who said, “he doesn’t tell you one thing in a campaign and do another.”
Agent Dunleavy wants Alaskans to forget everything he said as a candidate about his plans to make painless budget cuts of hundreds of millions that no one would notice.
He promised not to cut funding for schools, the University of Alaska, the Pioneer Homes, the court system, Power Cost Equalization and the state ferry system.
He promised the state could cut 2,000 vacant positions to save $200 million. He promised he would make Medicaid more efficient, consolidate heath insurance and produce $300 million more in savings. An increase in oil production would take care of everything else and the state would be paying $1 billion more in Permanent Fund dividends.
Agent Dunleavy changed all of those promises.
And that’s why there is a recall movement seeking a change at the top.
Dermot Cole can be reached at email@example.com