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Mike Dunleavy, the current governor of Alaska. Photo: Anchorage Daily News

Mike Dunleavy's Early Life and Education

Dunleavy was born on May 5, 1961, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He is a 1979 graduate of Scranton Central High School. He completed a bachelor's degree in history at Misericordia University in 1983. He earned his master's degree in education from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

He moved to Alaska in 1983 and pursued a career as a teacher, school principal and school district superintendent. Prior to his election to the Alaska Senate, Dunleavy served on the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Board, including two years as the board's president.

As a 1999 graduate of Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Oregon, Dunleavy led them to the 1999 4A State Boys Basketball Championship over North Salem High School, 65–38. Dunleavy attended the University School of Milwaukee for his freshman year, and Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin for his sophomore year.

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He is a former professional basketball player. Photo: Wikipedia

Dunleavy played at Duke University from 1999–2002. As a sophomore, he played on Duke's national championship team and scored a team-high 21 points in the title game, including 3 three-pointers during a decisive 11–2 second-half Duke run. As a junior, Dunleavy was a first-team NABC All-American, averaging 17.3 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game for the 31–4 Blue Devils.

In 2001–02, Dunleavy, Jay Williams, and Carlos Boozer each scored at least 600 points for the season, a feat only matched at Duke by Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith in the 2009–10 season.

Mike Dunleavy's Politics Career

In 2017 Dunleavy announced he would run for governor in 2018, but abandoned the race in September 2017, citing heart problems. In December 2017 he announced his return to the race. He resigned his senate seat effective January 15, 2018, to focus on his campaign. Retired the United States Air Force lieutenant colonel Mike Shower was chosen as his successor by Governor Bill Walker and confirmed by the Alaska Senate caucus after numerous replacement candidates were rejected.


Dunleavy and Kevin Meyer were the Republican nominees for governor and lieutenant governor of Alaska, respectively, and were elected in the November 2018 general election. Dunleavy was sworn in on December 3, 2018. He appointed Kevin Clarkson to be Alaska attorney general.

On June 28, 2019, Dunleavy exercised line-item veto authority as governor to make cuts of $433 million, including a cut of $130 million (41%) of state contributions to the University of Alaska.

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Photo: Homer News

Also on June 28, 2019, Dunleavy vetoed $335,000 from the budget of the Alaska Supreme Court, stating that he did so because the Court had held that the state was constitutionally required to provide public funding for elective abortions.

In September 2020, Dunleavy agreed to reimburse the state $2,800 for allegedly partisan advertisements that were paid for with state funds. Dunleavy did not admit to wrongdoing but stated that it was in the best interest of the state to resolve the allegations.

Recall attempt

On July 15, 2019, an effort to recall Dunleavy began following a public backlash over his cuts to public assistance, education and the University of Alaska ($135 million cuts to state funding, about a 41% reduction). To have the petition certified by the Division of Elections, the petitioners were required to submit 28,501 signatures (approximately 10% of the voting population in Alaska's last general election). On September 5, 2019, volunteers submitted 49,006 petition signatures to the Alaska Division of Elections for certification. On November 4, 2019, the Division of Elections declined to certify the recall petition following the issuance of a legal opinion by Alaska attorney general Kevin Clarkson. Clarkson acknowledged that the petitioners had submitted sufficient signatures and paid the necessary fees, but asserted that "the four allegations against the governor 'fail to meet any of the listed grounds for recall—neglect of duty, incompetence, or lack of fitness'". The petitioners stated that they would appeal the division's decision. In January 2020, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth rejected the division's decision not to certify the recall petition. The state appealed Aarseth's ruling to the Alaska Supreme Court, which on May 8 affirmed that the recall effort could go forward. The "Recall Dunleavy" effort failed to submit sufficient signatures to trigger a recall election in November 2020 but stated that it planned to continue gathering signatures in the hope of holding a recall election in 2021.

Mike Dunleavy's Personal Life

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Mike with his wife and three daughters. Photo: Must Read Alaska

Dunleavy has two younger brothers: Baker, who played at Villanova from 2002–06 and is the current head coach at Quinnipiac; and James, who was a walk-on for USC and is currently an NBA player agent. His father is Mike Dunleavy Sr., former Los Angeles Clippers coach, retired NBA player, and the former head coach at Tulane. While growing up, Dunleavy attended a residential sports camp in Eagle River, Wisconsin called Camp Menominee. In 2008, Camp Menominee honored Dunleavy by naming its basketball courts "The Mike Dunleavy Jr. Courts".

Alaska’s First Lady Rose Dunleavy is Inupiaq from the Kobuk River Valley village of Noorvik, where she grew up. The First Lady has worked for more than 20 years in the airline industry, starting out as an employee of Mark Air in rural Alaska and currently working for Alaska Airlines.

Together, she and Governor Michael Dunleavy have three daughters who were raised in both rural and urban Alaska; Maggie, Catherine, and Ceil. The family has been living in Wasilla since 2004.

Governor’s outreach director urged people to go out and ‘party like it’s New Year’s Eve’ before Anchorage closed bars

As the state of Alaska urges people to make sacrifices to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s director of communications and community outreach told friends and family to gather and party.

“Monday night, go to your favorite bar and party like it’s New Year’s Eve,” Dunleavy outreach director Dave Stieren wrote Thursday on his personal Facebook page. “Dress up. Uber. Whatever. Do it.”

The mixed messages highlight an ongoing contrast between local and state approaches to preventing the spread of the coronavirus and even the public statements of a state government versus the private actions of state leaders.

For more information about other governors of the U.S, please check out our KnowInsider!

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