When it comes to surprises in state politics, Alaska never disappoints. In just one week, the movement to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy collected more than 18,000 signatures. With petition sheets still in circulation, organizers estimate the campaign has probably reached the 20,000 mark. 

Alaska has never seen a recall movement catch fire like this one. In the past, they’ve eventually fizzled out for lack of oxygen. But the Republican governor has made a lot of people angry with his draconian budget cuts and vetoes, especially to the University of Alaska system, which is now preparing to downsize to adjust to an unprecedented cut in state funding.

In Fairbanks, where the university is a pillar of the economy, that anger is palpable, with some prominent Republicans openly expressing voter’s remorse.

Photojournalist Will Mader and I spent a couple of days there this week to find out how much opposition to the governor crosses party lines.

Here are some of the highlights from this week’s show:

  • Pulse on politics: Conventional political wisdom says Fairbanks is a microcosm of the state, so it’s an good place to check the political temperature. We hear from Richard Wien, a longtime Republican who voted for Dunleavy, now an outspoken critic, mostly upset by the governor’s cuts to the University’s research programs. Others like Mike Prax, who worked on Dunleavy’s campaign, say it takes a lot of political courage to stay the course when it comes to downsizing state government.
  • Museum of the North: It’s the crown jewel of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ research program. The governor’s budget veto zeroed-out a million dollars in state money for the museum, which houses more than 2 million objects in its collection, including frozen tissue from a bison that roamed Alaska 50,000 years ago.
  • Mark Myers weighs in: Myers retired recently as UAF’s research director -- but he’s also worked in key positions for a string of Alaska governors, both Democrats and Republicans. Why he says Gov. Dunleavy’s budget cuts threaten the entire state.

We hear from many voices in this program, but one important one is missing – that of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Perhaps sometime in the future, he’ll take us up on our standing invitation to sit down for an in-depth interview on Frontiers.       



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