Dermot Cole

Stand Tall With Mike, a new pro-Dunleavy political group, claims that “special interests that seek to thwart Mike Dunleavy’s fiscally conservative agenda” are behind the recall campaign.

The group is resurrecting the “standing tall” theme, which is the biggest thing Dunleavy has going for him.

Nearly 50,000 Alaskans signed onto the recall campaign in a little more than a month and nothing was spent on ads and promotion. Stand Tall suggests they were duped.

Alaskans aren’t getting the truth about Dunleavy, according to Stand Tall, because “Mike Dunleavy’s opponents have near total control of the airwaves and the news most Alaskans are seeing, hearing, and reading. Your generous donation will allow us to get the other side of the story out. This will lead to increased public support for Mike and his conservative agenda that Alaska so desperately needs.”

The claim about “near total control” and the twisted message is false.

The recall campaign and Dunleavy’s political problems are entirely the result of his mistakes in hiring, firing and failing to work with the public or negotiate with the Legislature. No amount of posturing, state-paid propaganda and attacks on the messenger will heal the self-inflicted wounds.

Also false is this summary of events: “As you can imagine, the special interests are now howling mad at Mike Dunleavy. They are protesting in the streets, at the Alaska capital, and in other public spaces. And they have started a petition to recall Mike Dunleavy from office, all because he had the audacity to cut Alaska’s bloated budget!”

Wrong, Stand Tall. That’s not why nearly 50,000 people signed the petitions that Attorney General Kevin Clarkson is sitting on.

To complete the trifecta of falseness, the group claims, “Last year, Alaskans overwhelming elected a new Governor who vowed to tackle these problems and he is doing exactly what he campaigned on.”

He received 51 percent of the vote and he campaigned on painless budget cuts no one would notice and no cuts to the ferry system, University of Alaska, Pioneer Homes, K-12 schools, the court system, the prison system, state Troopers and Power Cost Equalization.

If Dunleavy really wants to improve his standing in Alaska, he doesn’t need a group whose sole purpose is to “oppose signature collection effort to recall Governor Dunleavy.”

What Dunleavy needs is to announce that he was wrong about five big things and he will start all over again once he comes up with a plan for the ferry system, the University of Alaska, K-12 schools, Medicaid and state finances.

He has to admit that he had no analysis to back up anything he did on the budget, which is why the Legislature rejected his proposals and he had to resort to vetoes, many of which he reversed because of the growing recall campaign.

He could backtrack and say that times have changed now with the forced departure of Tuckerman Babcock and former temporary budget director Donna Arduin.

Failing a course correction of that magnitude, it will be the recall effort that is standing tall.

It is possible that Dunleavy’s master plan is to wreck government services, instead of making government work for Alaskans. If so, he has been successful so far. But he will be recalled if he keeps at it.

Don’t be surprised if Francis Dunleavy, the governor’s rich brother in Texas, and businessman Bob Penney, follow up on the hundreds of thousands they invested last year in the Dunleavy shadow campaign by pumping a fortune into “Stand Tall With Mike.”

Francis was a key figure in a scandal that led to JP Morgan paying a $410 million settlement six years ago in connection with accusations that the firm manipulated electricity prices in California and the Midwest.

Last spring, Penney’s grandson received a no-bid contract that could be worth up to $441,000, a decision that was kept quiet by state officials for weeks. The contract should have been awarded through a competitive bid.

Lindsay Williams, who is active in Republican circles in Anchorage, is chair of the pro-Dunleavy group. The treasurer is Bob Griffin, who was also treasurer of the shadow campaign last year. Dunleavy appointed him to the state board of education.

Dermot Cole can be reached at

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