Dunleavy reaches his supporters, inside and outside Alaska, through national media outlets

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, left, appears on Fox News with host Neil Cavuto. Dunleavy has reached conservatives through several national media appearances. (Screenshot from Fox News video)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has been appearing this month in conservative national media. On Fox News, Breitbart News and talk radio shows, Dunleavy has drawn a parallel between the potential recall effort he’s facing and the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump.

The governor has used the appearances to make a case for his policies — but he’s also raising funds to counter the recall.

Dunleavy identified himself closely with a group raising money to fight the recall, saying, “We do have a website: It’s standtallwithmike.com.”

Dunleavy was referring to the website of a new group formed to fight the recall, Stand Tall with Mike, on Oct. 6 on “Breitbart News Sunday”, a show on satellite radio channel SiriusXM Patriot.

In the appearances, Dunleavy has drawn a comparison between himself and Trump.

“Just like the president: He wasn’t supposed to win. He was not within the establishment. He was not part of the swamp. And what people fail to realize is that President Trump — and what we’re trying to do up here is — we’re trying to work on behalf of the average American, average Alaskan,” Dunleavy said.

Dunleavy has told national audiences that the political left and special interests want to redo the 2018 election.

He told host Neil Cavuto this on Fox News on Oct. 18: “These folks actually started to talk about a recall a mere two, two-and-a-half months into my term,” he said. “It’s really more about the agenda that I was elected on and the agenda I’m actually implementing that some of the folks on the left don’t agree with. And so they’ve started this recall effort.”

A political consultant said Dunleavy’s national appearances are a strategy that gets the governor’s message out to his supporters inside Alaska.

Art Hackney has worked with Republican candidates and causes, including a group that supported Dunleavy’s election.

“On the conservative side, you have in Fox News a tremendous venue. I think it’s about 40% in one fell swoop of the people on the conservative side are viewers,” Hackney said.

Hackney also said politically active Americans are starting to pay more attention to what’s happening in other states. This means Alaska elected officials and candidates of any party can use national exposure to raise money.

“You’re just using a venue that gets your message out there,” he said. “It’s difficult in Alaska to raise money. You know, Alyse Galvin (an independent running for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives) can talk about … getting lots of small donors, but they’re coming from outside of Alaska. … It’s always a battle to raise money, so it’s just plain smart for the governor to be doing this.”

Meda DeWitt chairs Recall Dunleavy, the group organizing the recall. She said the national appearances are just about money. And the recall signers represent a broad group of Alaskans, including some who support the president.

“We care about our state, and the fact that he’s referring to his constituents as the swamp — he should be ashamed of himself,” she said. “You know, if he feels that way about Alaskans, you know, he should step down.”

DeWitt said Dunleavy didn’t run on the cuts he proposed once in office.

“He ran on a platform saying he would make our government more efficient and that he wouldn’t cut education … and that he wouldn’t cut things that matter to us,” she said.

The state Division of Elections is expected to announce by Nov. 4 whether it has certified the recall to begin the signature-gathering campaign.

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.

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