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Supporter of a petition to remove the governor come up short of the signatures needed for a ballot challenge

By Claire Withycombe

EO Media Group reporter

Supporters of a petition to recall Gov. Kate Brown came up short of the signatures needed for a ballot challenge, Oregon Republican Party chairman Bill Currier announced last week on a Portland conservative talk show.

Supporters needed at least 280,050 valid signatures by the filing deadline on Oct. 14 to put a recall on the ballot.Brown

One effort, filed by Currier, fell short by about 8 percent or about 22,400 signatures. A separate effort, known as "Flush Down Kate Brown," received 100,000 signatures by people who were not on the GOP's signature list.

Michael Cross, lead sponsor of the "Flush Down Kate Brown" petition, delivered nine boxes of petitions to the secretary of state's office on Oct. 14, according to the secretary of state's office. Workers counted all 23,926 signature sheets. But each sheet can only have, at most, 10 signatures. After counting the sheets, it was clear there weren't enough signatures for that effort to qualify for the ballot.

Currier told talk show host Lars Larson that there was "absolutely" support for another recall effort.

Currier added that enough valid signatures had been collected between the two efforts.

"Another way to put this is, there were enough signatures collected ... they just can't be combined," he said.

Currier also said that the petition received quite a few invalid signatures that he said could be easily corrected if the petitioners file again. They had been able to identify about 100,000 invalid signatures by registered voters.

"We have an address and a name and with a little bit of research we can tie that to a specific person and make that valid," Currier said.

Reckless or historic?

Brown, a Democrat, was first appointed governor in 2015 after John Kitzhaber resigned after an influence-peddling scandal. She was elected to fill Kitzhaber's unexpired term in 2016 and re-elected in 2018.

In the election last year, Brown received 50.05 percent of the vote, or 934,498 votes, according to data from the secretary of state. Her primary opponent, Republican Knute Buehler, received 814,988 votes.

Currier said the public and the party's volunteers were committed to the cause of removing Brown. The GOP petition said Brown has "overturned the will of the voters" by allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses, "failed to protect Oregon's foster children" and "failed to address" the state's public pension debt, among other grievances.

"The volunteers are, for the most part, so committed to seeing Brown removed that we can carry this forward," Currier said, "But we do have to work out details like timing, when we begin round two, setting up the infrastructure for all of that to happen. So this fight is definitely not over."

Brown's supporters argue that she has fulfilled her campaign promises.

"Gov. Brown ran a campaign promising to move Oregon forward by investing in our schools, creating paid family and medical leave, and protecting the environment," Thomas Wheatley, a political adviser to Brown, said in a prepared statement. "That's exactly what she did this year."

Wheatley contended that "recalls should be used only when an elected official has committed a crime, not when someone disagrees with the policies of the governor or another elected official.

"The extremists pushing reckless recalls want to overturn the will of the voters who elected Democrats by wide margins," Wheatley added. "In rejecting this recall, the public has sent a clear message: Oregonians don't want to waste their tax dollars on a reckless recall against Democratic lawmakers who are moving our state forward."

Currier said that the number of signatures they gathered in three months was "historic." Experts had observed that getting enough signatures within 90 days with an all-volunteer campaign would be a steep climb.

"I think people need to understand that we had 90 days to collect twice as many signatures as a normal petition, which gets a whole year to do that," Currier said. "So, this is historic."

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