JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A state court judge on Tuesday put on hold a decision that would have allowed supporters of an effort to recall Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy to begin a new signature-gathering phase.
Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth in Anchorage said petitions should be issued by Feb. 10, unless that date is stayed by the Alaska Supreme Court. At that time, he said he “does not intend on granting a stay of that process.”
Aarseth’s order Tuesday followed recent written arguments by Stand Tall With Mike, a group opposing the recall. The order did not go into detail for the judge’s reasoning in granting a stay but said the decision was made upon consideration of the group’s filing. The decision states that the matter is stayed pending resolution of the case in the Alaska Supreme Court.
Claire Pywell, campaign manager for the Recall Dunleavy group, said Tuesday’s decision “does not impact the merits of his primary ruling — the recall application that over 46,000 Alaskans signed is still valid.”
Aarseth in his initial ruling struck one of the allegations raised by the recall group but determined the others should be allowed to proceed.
“Recall Dunleavy intends to pursue all necessary procedures at every level to guarantee that Alaskans will have the opportunity to sign the recall petition as soon as possible,” Pywell said in a statement.
The Recall Dunleavy group, in a court filing, asked Aarseth to reconsider his stay. In court documents, it labels as “specious and speculative” arguments made by recall opponents that they would be irreparably harmed if the signature-gathering was not halted pending appeal.
Stand Tall With Mike said in a court filing that if the Republican governor faces a recall campaign, “he will be less able to focus on fulfilling his campaign promises while defending against this recall effort,” the document states.
The recall opposition group also said that if signature gathering moved forward and the Supreme Court ultimately struck down at least part of the recall application, it would lead to more legal disputes and create confusion. “Such a result does not accord with Alaska’s orderly process of recall for cause,” the filing states. “It is better for all to measure twice and cut once.”
Stand Tall With Mike stated it was prepared to seek an appeal on an expedited schedule.
Brewster Jamieson, an attorney for Stand Tall With Mike, said he was pleased with Aarseth’s order, adding the matter needs to be fully decided by the Alaska Supreme Court.
A tweet from Attorney General Kevin Clarkson’s account said Tuesday that Aarseth’s order “makes sense because the Supreme Court’s direction on statewide recall standards is needed.”