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Kate Brown recall drive falls short

The Oregon Republican Party announced Monday afternoon that it had fallen short of the minimum required signatures on petitions to put a recall of Gov. Kate Brown before voters.

“To our great disappointment, the ‘Stop The Abuse — Recall Kate Brown’ campaign has fallen 2,796 signatures or less than 1% short of the minimum number of 280,050 signatures required to qualify to put a recall of the Governor on the ballot this fall,” said state Republican Party Chairman Bill Currier in a statement.

In a Facebook Live stream with recall supporters, Currier called the outcome “gut-wrenching.”

Currier said the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown’s emergency declaration and orders limiting gathering sizes and requiring social distancing, along with issues, caused the drive to come up short. After a final count by the state party, Currier decided the petitions could not be submitted.

“Under state law, prior to the submission of any petition signatures, I, as chief petitioner, must first attest to having the minimum number of qualified signatures,” Currier said. “Therefore, the signatures cannot be submitted.”

Secretary of State Bev Clarno confirmed that her office had been told the recall petitions would not be submitted by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

“The petitioners do not plan to submit signatures today, meaning the recall will not take place,” said Laura Fosmire, Clarno’s spokesperson.

It is the second time in two years that a Republican effort to recall Brown has failed to file recall petitions. In 2019, two efforts to recall Brown — including one by the state Republican party — collected signatures, but did not submit them.

Brown slammed the latest effort as a distraction from the November presidential election.

“This recall attempt was just the latest political ploy to divert attention away from Trump’s floundering presidency and disrupt the upcoming election by pitting Oregonians against each other,” said Brown spokesman Thomas Wheatley.

The Republicans had focused on Brown’s orders closing businesses and other restrictions that they said were unnecessarily sweeping and led to the sharp downturn in the state economy. Brown has said the restrictions were necessary for public health and safety and pointed to the state’s relatively low level of infections and deaths compared to other parts of the country.

Currier said the effort was also hampered by what he said were limits on electronically submitted petitions, requirements to renumber petition forms, and intimidation tactics against those who tried to gather signatures.

If the petitions had been submitted, they would have first been checked by the Secretary of State’s Elections Division.

Most petition drives seek to have at least 20 percent more signatures than are required because of the standard number of signers who are thrown out because they are not residents, or don’t meet other state standards.

If the recall had enough signatures, a special election, most likely in October, would have been held. If a governor is recalled, the Secretary of State becomes governor.

Though litigation could have affected the process, Clarno — a Republican appointed by Brown — would be first in line to serve as governor, most likely until the 2022 general election. Brown’s term ends in 2022.

Twenty states allow for the recall of a governor, according to the political website Ballotpedia.

Recall efforts rarely result in a governor losing office. No Oregon governor has been recalled. California Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, was recalled in 2003. Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, faced a recall election in 2012, but retained his position.

Governor Kate Brown file.jpg