Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau empire                                 A volunteer, who declined to be identified, signals to passersby outside the Mendenhall Valley Public Library during a Recall Dunleavy event Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau empire A volunteer, who declined to be identified, signals to passersby outside the Mendenhall Valley Public Library during a Recall Dunleavy event Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020.

Recall campaigners take a break for election season

Volunteers are heading to other campaigns until November

Volunteers were out in the rain last Saturday, waving signs and trying to guide passersby to tables where they could sign the petition to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

The Recall Dunleavy campaign is still gathering signatures, but because the petition needs to be signed in-person the coronavirus pandemic has hampered their efforts. The campaign already missed the deadline for a recall question to appear on the general election ballot in November and now volunteers are hoping to gather the signatures needed for a special election possibly next spring, according to Ben Muse Sr., a campaign volunteer in Juneau.

“It’s no surprise we didn’t make the Nov. 3 ballot,” Muse said in an interview with the Empire.

Muse had volunteered at a number of signature-gathering events, he said, but those were scaled-down events designed for social distancing and not the large gatherings or rallies that usually boost signature gathering. But people were still eager to sign, he said, and several told him they didn’t realize they still could until they saw volunteers waving signs on the street.

“Ferries are a big issue for people,” Muse said.

While there’s still a lot of motivation behind the campaign, Muse said a lot of the Recall volunteers in Juneau are spending more of their time on other campaigns, specifically the campaigns of Dr. Al Gross and Alyse Galvin for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives respectively.

[Alaska governor recall campaign not on track to be on ballot]

Both Gross and Galvin appear to have secured Alaska’s Democratic nomination, though election results won’t be certified for a least another week, according to the Division of Elections.

“There’s a lot of competition between these campaigns for volunteers,” Muse said. “That doesn’t mean I’m not interested. There’s a lot of things going on right now. It’s going to be an important election.”

Muse said activity around the recall campaign was likely to slow in Juneau as volunteers put their energy into other campaigns. Volunteers in Southeast had been phone banking throughout the summer, he said, and he expected the recall campaign to continue those kinds of activities but not much more.

According to their website, the campaign has collected more than 43,000, or 60% of the 71,252 signatures required by law to qualify for a recall petition. If properly reviewed and certified, the DOE director must call for a special election, “not less than 60, nor more than 90, days after the date that notification is given that the petition was properly filed,” according to Alaska law.

According to state statute regarding recall elections, section. 15.45.650 “if a primary or general election is to be held not less than 60, nor more than 90, days after the date that notification is given that the petition was properly filed, the special election shall be held on the date of the primary or general election.”

Primary results suggest likely Legislature leadership shakeup

Statewide the campaign is seeing a similar shift in manpower as volunteers leave for the campaign season, according to Recall Dunleavy campaign manager Claire Pywell. In an email, Pywell said she was aware of volunteers leaving to work on campaigns for Democratic, Republican and independent campaigns as well as ballot initiatives. The recall campaign has not released any information about a special election and distanced the campaign from any specific dates.

“The fact that the recall will not appear as a question on the November general election in no way means that we are not moving forward,” Pywell said. “The Steering Committee has always known it was highly likely that the recall would appear on a special election ballot.”

Muse said he intended to return to the recall campaign, and that positive public response at the events the campaign did hold over the summer led him to believe there was still energy in the movement.

“That’s what kept me going,” he said.

The governor’s office does not comment on matters relating to the recall campaign.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

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