(Photo by Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska’s Division of Elections rejected a petition to recall Governor Mike Dunleavy on Monday. Organizers of the recall campaign completed an application to begin the official petition process, however, the state’s Attorney General argues that the grounds for the recall are inadequate.

Anne Marie Palmieri is one of about a dozen Haines residents involved in the campaign to recall Governor Mike Dunleavy. She says she was motivated to gather signatures for the petition because of the governor’s budget cuts to public education, the Alaska Marine Highway System and other state services.

“And that just made me very concerned about the direction that Governor Dunleavy is taking our state and hearing all of the legal arguments in support of a recall petition, I just felt like it’s something that I believed,” Palmieri says.

In August, the campaign began collecting signatures to apply for a recall. Organizers needed 28,000 signatures from registered voters in Alaska to get their initiative certified by the state. Recall organizers say 49,000 Alaskans signed the petition. 

On Monday the Division of Elections rejected the recall application based on a written opinion from Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson. 

Palmieri says that wasn’t a surprise.

“That’s what was expected. The Attorney General is actually appointed by the governor so it’s just the next step.”

Clarkson argued that the grounds for recall outlined in the application were not factually or legally sufficient. 

The Recall Dunleavy campaign has already filed a complaint against the state asking to have the decision overturned.

Palmieri says that local organizers will be meeting in the next couple weeks to prepare to collect more signatures. 

“We’re pretty optimistic that the superior court will decide in our favor. We just want to be ready to get out and collect signatures when we can,” Palmieri says.

Removing an elected official from office is inherently political, but the reasons for a recall are not supposed to be based on political disagreements. According to the Division of Elections a governor can be recalled for lack of fitness for office, incompetence, neglect of duties, or corruption.

Palmieri says that everyone needs to weigh the legal arguments at play and decide for themselves whether or not the governor should be removed from office. 

“Hopefully we get an opportunity to vote on this. Really that’s what the petition is for. The petition is to gather signatures so that there can be an election of the people as to whether or not the governor did something that broke the law.”

The application for the recall argues that the governor violated the state constitution’s separation of powers with budget vetoes, used state money and resources to make partisan statements about political opponents and supporters, and failed to appoint a judge under the schedule required by state law.