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Bid to recall Gov. Ducey over handling of pandemic falls short of signatures
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Bid to recall Gov. Ducey over handling of pandemic falls short of signatures

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PHOENIX – A bid to recall Gov. Doug Ducey has come up short.

Adam Halleck, chairman of the group dubbed Accountable Arizona, told Capitol Media Services on Tuesday that circulators have collected only about 150,000 signatures in the effort that began in September. That is far short of the 594,111 valid signatures needed on petitions by Jan. 16 to force a special election.

Halleck said the campaign was in some ways a victim of the very thing that triggered the recall: Ducey’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said people were fearful about risking infection to go out to the places where petitions were available for signing. And Halleck said more aggressive approaches to get names on petitions made no sense.

“With COVID-19 completely out of control and the state seemingly doing nothing to stop it, we don’t feel comfortable having our volunteers going out anymore,” he said.

But Halleck said if the governor had been more aggressive in his response, not as many people would have been sickened and died — and there would have been no need for a recall.

At the time the recall was launched, there were about 5,400 deaths linked to the coronavirus. As of Tuesday that figure hit 8,640 with 171 new reported deaths. And the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation predicts that figure will exceed 15,000 by April 1 even with rapid rollout of the vaccine.

Other figures released Tuesday show 1,053 beds in intensive-care units occupied by patients with positive or suspected COVID-19 conditions, a new record since the outbreak began this spring, with another 4,475 inpatient beds with COVID patients, also a record.

In launching the recall, Halleck said a lot of this could have been avoided.

“If Doug Ducey had issued a statewide mask mandate, like a lot of other states have done, we probably could have reduced community spread tremendously,” he said.

The other main reason the recall faltered was money.

Halleck said the campaign collected less than $5,000. Yet even with that, he said volunteers were able to gather more than a quarter of the signatures needed in the 120-day window allowed in state law for recall efforts.

Complicating matters, he said, was having the campaign “co-opted” by Republican Congressman Paul Gosar who endorsed the recall.

Only thing is, the reasons Gosar wants to oust Ducey are far different — and in some ways divergent — from Halleck’s underlying effort. Gosar is upset with Ducey for refusing to back moves to overturn the election results which gave Arizona’s 11 electoral votes to Joe Biden.

“We may have different reasons to recall Ducey than (Accountable Arizona) but the end result is the same,” Gosar tweeted last month. And he provided a link where his supporters could contact Halleck’s group.

But what happened, Halleck said, is Gosar supporters were showing up without masks — and sometimes armed — at locations where petitions were being circulated. He said that, in turn, scared off some people who otherwise support the original purpose of the recall.

Halleck said that, if nothing else, he now has petitions with 150,000 names of people who can form the basis of yet-to-come efforts to deny Ducey any future office he might aspire to after his term is up at the end of 2022.

On Twitter: @azcapmedia.


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