The Oregon Republican Party has launched a new recall effort against Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.
An effort backed by the party last year fell short of the 280,050 voter signatures required to qualify a recall for a statewide ballot. The Oregon Constitution fixes the number at 15% of the votes cast for governor in the most recent election in 2018, when Brown won a second term.
Chairman Bill Currier said the initial effort mustered 258,000 signatures, which were not submitted for verification to the secretary of state. None of them can be applied directly to the new effort, and neither can about 100,000 signatures from an effort separate from the party — but those voters can be contacted again for signatures on new petitions.
Signatures for the new effort must be gathered and submitted by Aug. 29, 90 days after the effort became official on June 1.
Two other recall efforts against Brown have been filed, one by Kurt Saindon of Waldport on April 30 and one by Kelsey Massey of Phoenix, Ore., in May.
If the GOP-backed effort mustered the required number of signatures, the Oregon Constitution gives Brown five days to resign. If she did not do so, a special statewide election would be scheduled in 35 days. If voters did recall her from office, the next in line is state Treasurer Tobias Read, elected in 2016 and seeking re-election this year. Secretary of State Bev Clarno, a Republican appointed by Brown after the death of Dennis Richardson in 2019, is ineligible under a 1972 constitutional amendment because an appointee cannot succeed to the governorship.
Although the recall has been used against local officials and state legislators, Oregon has had no statewide recall election. Three efforts were mounted against Democratic Gov. Barbara Roberts in the 1990s, one backed by the timber industry, but all failed to qualify for a statewide election.
Signature-gathering efforts could be hampered by continued social distancing that public health experts recommend to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Most initiative attempts for the Nov. 3 general election are likely to falter as a result of the shutdowns in business activity and public life going back to mid-March.
But the efforts could be aided in counties outside the Portland metropolitan area that are gradually resuming business activity, largely under phased-in steps approved by Brown. Brown won just seven of Oregon's 36 counties in her 2018 re-election: Multnomah and Washington, the two most populous; Lane and Benton, home to the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, and Clatsop, Hood River and Lincoln.
According to the state Elections Division, Brown's campaign committee has more than $800,000 on hand — even though Brown is barred by term limits from running again in 2022 — and the Oregon Republican Party has barely $23,000.
But Currier said he is optimistic about the chances of the new effort. Part of his statement is below:
"The conduct of the governor during the events of 2020 has only served to reveal just how devastating Brown's abuse of power could truly be upon Oregon. A year ago, citizens were angry, but now Oregonians are fighting for their livelihoods and their freedoms. Governor Brown's unlawful executive orders stand in the way of restoring both.
"Why keep a governor that cannot deal with what she dismissed as 'small groups' of rioters around the state and can't deliver desperately needed unemployment benefits for 50% of Oregon's 400K unemployed who have now been waiting over two months? No one seriously believes that this governor is going to somehow do a great job turning the economy around when the only thing she seems to be good at is shutting the economy down and killing off more employers with taxes and suffocating regulation."
The 2019 effort against Brown was linked to her support of climate-change legislation — which prompted a walkout by Republican senators and died without a Senate vote — and her approval of a bill allowing driver licenses without proof of legal presence. (Only one Republican, Rep. Cheri Helt of Bend, voted for it.)
Link to the new recall effort against Gov. Kate Brown:
NOTE: Fixes error in succession under a 1972 constitutional amendment. Secretary of State Clarno, having been appointed, would be ineligible to succeed Brown if something happened. The next in line would be Treasurer Tobias Read.
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