Republicans campaign to recall liberal governor
Oregon filing cites ‘long line of abuses’
The Oregon Republican Party started a recall campaign against Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, after a contentious legislative session in which she sicced her state troopers on runaway Republican legislators fighting her climate change agenda.
The recall paperwork, filed by Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bill Currier, accused her of ignoring or overturning the will of the voters on driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and on tax increases, as well as denying citizens protection from “the domestic terrorist threat known as Antifa.” “Gov. Brown has subjected the people of Oregon to a long line of abuses of power while at the same time refusing to address their legitimate concerns,” the recall statement said. “She has fostered a toxic political environment that stifles meaningful discourse. She has threatened retaliation against her own citizens when her political agenda is not successful in the legislature.”
Ms. Brown’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Currier said the party must collect about 280,000 valid signatures to force a special election on the recall, which would likely be held in November or December.
Any gubernatorial recall must be viewed as a long shot — only two U.S. governors have ever been recalled, neither in Oregon — but Mr. Currier said Ms. Brown’s ambitious liberal agenda has angered multiple groups, including small business owners, loggers, truckers, gun owners and opponents of mandatory vaccines.
“We have a critical mass of voting blocs right now,” Mr. Currier said.
Ms. Brown said she was “not backing down” after 11 Senate Republican legislators killed a Democratic cap-and-trade bill by fleeing the state for a week near the end of the legislative session. Their absence denied the majority Democrats the legislative quorum needed to conduct business.
The Republicans returned two days before the session adjourned June 30 to take care of other legislative business.
The governor later praised legislators for an “extraordinary session.” She cited bills on paid family and medical leave, health care funding and housing, and the Student Success Act, which raises $1 billion per year for education by increasing taxes on the state’s highest-earning businesses.
She also vowed to revisit the cap-andtrade bill, calling it “unfinished business,” and hinted at executive action.
“My colleagues in the legislature and I were elected by Oregonians with a clear mandate to address the challenge of climate change,” Ms. Brown said in a July 1 statement. “We need to pass a cap and invest program that will achieve the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals at the least possible cost while continuing growing our economy.”
The Oregon recall effort is the second undertaken in the West this year against left-tilting Democratic governors.
In Colorado, the secretary of state’s office approved petitions for a recall against Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat who took office in January, but that campaign is being led by grassroots groups, not the state party.
Rep. Ken Buck, who heads the Colorado Republican Party, said party leaders would keep an eye on the ambitious undertaking, which needs 631,266 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, a high hurdle in a state of 5.7 million.
“Efforts to recall Gov. Polis or any other elected official should be grassroots-led and independent of the state Republican Party. However, we will evaluate these movements as they proceed, just as we do with any potential recall or election,” Mr. Buck said in a statement.
Another two Colorado recall petitions targeting Democratic state Sens. Pete Lee and Brittany Pettersen were approved, citing their support for four hotly disputed bills in favor of gun control, LGBTQ sex education, anti-fracking rules, and the National Popular Vote initiative, all of which passed.
A recall effort against Democratic state Sen. Tom Sullivan backed by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners fizzled in June after meeting with national Democratic opposition. Mr. Sullivan’s son Alex was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting.
A fourth Democratic state legislator, Rochelle Galindo, resigned in May amid sexual misconduct allegations, which she denied, after the launch of a recall campaign. She was later cited by Greeley police for providing alcohol to a 19-year-old, according to Colorado Public Radio.
A former Oregon secretary of state, Ms. Brown succeeded Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, after he resigned amid an influence-peddling investigation in 2015. She won a term in her own right in November.
Protesters opposing a Republican walkout over a climate change bill demonstrated at the Capitol in Salem, Oregon. When Democrats won a supermajority in the legislature in November, it seemed they had a clear path for their agenda.