When reporters from the Oregon Capital Bureau interviewed about 30 voters signing recall petitions against Democratic Gov. Kate Brown at the Oregon State Fair last week, the majority of them had trouble saying exactly why they wanted to recall the governor. That's the first clue that this recall is going nowhere.
The Oregon Constitution doesn't specify reasons for recalling elected officials either; it merely lays out the required number of signatures to put a recall on the ballot — 15% of the number of votes cast for governor in the most recent election — and specifies what happens after enough signatures are turned in. In Brown's case, that means recall supporters need 280,000 valid signatures by Oct. 14.
The official being targeted has the option of resigning. If the official does not resign within five days of the petition being filed, a recall election must be held within 35 days.
Recall has generally been, and ought to be, reserved for corruption or malfeasance, not for policy differences. But even those fair-goers interviewed last week who could clearly state their reasons for signing the petition mentioned legislation, such as a cap-and-trade bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that failed to pass, not any perceived wrongdoing. Others mentioned business taxes, environmental policies and legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses.
In general, signers said Brown was responsible for turning Oregon into a pro-tax, anti-gun and anti-business state, in contrast to what they said was the will of the voters. Beyond that, they just don't like her.
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Love her or hate her, Brown has won two elections since taking office upon the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber, who left under the cloud of an ethics investigation. She won the first contest by nearly 140,000 votes, and the second, for a full term, by almost 120,000 votes in 2018. She cannot run for reelection in 2022 under the state's term-limits law.
Complicating the recall proponents' case is the fact that there are two separate petitions, one sponsored by Michael Cross, a Marion County man with a record of criminal convictions and civil lawsuits against him and his former businesses, and the other by the state Republican Party. The two campaigns are not cooperating, and in fact are sniping at each other. Both appear to be operating in the red, and Cross is accused by former supporters of mismanaging money.
Even if one of the campaigns manages to collect enough signatures to force a recall election, winning it would be an even longer shot. Proponents would be better off concentrating on finding and supporting a strong candidate to run in 2022 for what will be an open seat.
-- The Medford Mail Tribune