Organizers of the "Recall Dunleavy" campaign began collecting signatures last Thursday in cities across Alaska, taking the first step in their attempt to get Gov. Mike Dunleavy out of office.

By the end of their first day, the campaign gathered more than 10,000 signatures. After a full week, at least 8,000 more Alaskans joined the effort.

According to Meda DeWitt, the campaign's chair, people representing over 70 communities turned out to the more than 50 signature gathering events.

"The people of Alaska are taking their future and the future of our great state back into their hands," she said.

As of Thursday night, DeWitt says 18,198 people signed their names to the organization's petition. She said more signatures still need to be counted from Fairbanks, Soldotna, Kake and Dillingham. Once those signature sheets are in, she estimates the campaign will have around 20,000 signatures.

"For the recall to have already obtained two-thirds of the necessary signatures in one week is absolutely historic," said Scott Kendall, counsel to the campaign. "It's fair to say that Alaska has never seen anything quite like this movement."

DeWitt said the campaign's website raised over $25,000 in donations from close to 300 people since launching July 31.

Despite the campaign's efforts, they still have to clear several election law hurdles before a recall election can occur, including the need for over 10,000 additional signatures from registered voters — and that's just to get a successful petition application. 

Once those signatures get certified for a petition, the campaign must then collect 71,252 signatures, reflecting 25% of the 2018 voter turnout. The division of elections director then reviews applications and either certifies petitions or notifies the recall committee on the grounds for refusal. If the elections office deems the second step legal, an election would be called within 60 to 90 days.

According to election laws, petitioners must meet one of the following legal grounds for a recall: lack of fitness; incompetence; neglecting duties; corruption. The campaign drafted a 200-word grounds for recall statement, citing neglect of duties, incompetence and lack of fitness — but not corruption.

Dunleavy supporters call the endeavor a waste of time and resources, adding the governor's only been in office for eight months, which is not nearly enough time for his initiatives to take hold. Even as some Dunleavy voters have regrets, his staunchest supporters remain vocal in backing the first-term governor.

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