Oregon State Fair visitors sign a petition to recall Gov. Kate Brown at the booth organized by Flush Down Kate Brown. (Claire Withycombe/Oregon Capital Bureau)
Supporters of a petition to recall Gov. Kate Brown came up short of the signatures needed for a ballot challenge, Oregon Republican Party Chair Bill Currier said Monday.
Currier made the announcement midday on the Lars Larson Show, the conservative talk show. Supporters needed at least 280,050 valid signatures by 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14 to put a recall on the ballot.
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, Larson said on the show. Larson said that effort also was not as successful as the party’s.
Michael Cross, the lead sponsor of the “Flush Down Kate Brown” petition, delivered nine boxes of petitions to the Secretary of State’s office around 2 p.m. on Monday, according to the Secretary of State’s office. The petitioners filed paperwork saying they were submitting about 290,000 signatures.
State workers counted all 23,926 signature sheets. But since each sheet can only have, at most, ten signatures each, after counting the sheets it was clear there weren’t enough signatures for that effort to qualify for the ballot. At 10 valid signatures per sheet, the drive would have been more than 40,000 short of that needed.
"No individual signature validation was necessary," according to Secretary of State Bev Clarno.
Currier said that there was “absolutely” support for another recall effort.
“This fight is not over,” Currier said.
Currier said that between the two efforts, enough valid signatures were collected.
“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 petitioners file again. Many invalid signatures were “simply illegible,” Currier said.
He said over the weekend, they had been able to identify about 100,000 invalid signatures by registered voters whose signatures could be converted into valid signatures.
“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. “And there were other folks who didn’t put the correct information down, they put the wrong address, and so we can tie them back to a correct address.”
Currier did not return requests seeking further comment Monday.
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 reelected in 2018.
In the election last year, Brown received 50.05 percent of the vote, or 934,498 votes, according to Secretary of State data. Her main 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 on the show, “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 supports say 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,” said Thomas Wheatley, political adviser to Brown, in a written statement Monday. “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 said. “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.”
Reporter Claire Withycombe: [email protected] or 971-304-4148