Oregon Republican chairman Bill Currier is trying to unseat Oregon Gov. Kate Brown again with his “Stop the Abuse: Recall Kate Brown” petition, and Wallowa County volunteers are providing opportunities to sign it here before time runs out Aug. 31.
“We have only had the petitions in the county for about a week,” said Annette Lathrop, the Wallowa County Republican chairwoman who is spearheading the drive in Wallowa County.
The petition was approved by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Elections Division June 3. On June 4, the first signature sheets were personally delivered to Lathrop by special courier. Lathrop is leading the drive as an independent volunteer rather than an official function of the Wallowa County Republican Party, she said.
“The Republican Party is supporting this petition, but is not the driving force behind it,” she said. “Technically, it’s a non-partisan petition drive.”
“In a week we’ve gotten between 400 and 500 signatures,” she said on June 12. “Given what I know today, it looks like in the first two weeks of this petition drive, we will surpass the numbers that we got in all of last year in Wallowa County.”
Statewide, the petition needs 280,050 valid signatures to make the November ballot. Lathrop said the group’s goal is 300,000.
“Last time the petition was kind of a quick reaction to the egregious legislation (cap and trade and gun rights restrictions) that was rushed through. Currier and the group that were the skeletal designers of that petition last year have worked since that time to put together a well thought-out, well-structured petition drive. Immediately out of the gate it had a thousand volunteers on the ground, ready to go to work. There are coordinators in just about every county,” Lathrop said.
According to the effort’s website, katebrownrecall.com, Frances Preston is the point of contact for weekly signing opportunities from 1-7 p.m. Saturdays through Sept. 25 at Mountain View Mini-Mart in Prairie City. The phone number listed is 907-723-7613.
This time, Currier’s recall petition is sponsored not only by the Oregon Republican Party, but by a group of “coalition partners” and advisers that are part of a political action committee.
“Contributors include Timber Unity, Slavic Vote, and a number of west-side organizations that are part of the sphere surrounding this recall,” Lathrop said.
Two other recall petitions were approved by the Oregon Secretary of State in late April and early May. One of those was withdrawn in late May.
Currier’s petition is the one currently being circulated by Lathrop and other volunteers in Wallowa County. It lists 11 grievances. They include charges that Brown used COVID-19 to unlawfully restrict freedoms, caused needless economic ruin, denied citizens protection from the growing domestic threat known as Antifa, attempted to deprive Oregon’s working families of jobs using faulty environmental policy and failed to protect Oregon’s foster children.
In the past week, Lathrop and other volunteers have set up booths or tables in Enterprise, Joseph and Lostine to gather signatures.
“It’s an all-volunteer organization,” Lathrop said. “So where we set up depends upon who has time to do it.”
To be sure that petitions are error free, there will soon be a mobile app that will allow petition circulators to instantly verify whether a potential signer is a registered voter, what their registered address is and whether they have already signed the petition.
“We’ll be validating as we go,” Lathrop said. “That means, if used faithfully, nearly all of the signatures should be valid.”
There’s also mandatory training for signature gatherers, also known as signature circulators.
“You can’t just pick up a bunch of blank signature pages and take them somewhere to have all your friends and family sign,” Lathrop said. “There’s requirements that signature circulators have to meet or the whole sheet of signatures can be thrown out.”
Friday, June 12, Pam Diggins and Tammie Quinby set up an unambiguous flag-draped booth on Lostine’s Main Street to gather signatures. They also included the Greater Idaho petition as well and invited visitors to sign either or both. Including the Greater Idaho petition, which asks that Eastern Oregon counties become part of Idaho, was their own idea. The two petition drives are not related, Lathrop said.
Former Wallowa Mayor Vikki Knifong stopped by to sign both, as did Karen and David Wurdinger of Enterprise.
“I don’t know what Kate Brown’s done for us that’s good, and whatever she’s doing isn’t working. She doesn’t even know we exist.” Knifong said.
“Don’t much care for what Kate Brown’s been doing to Oregon,” Karen Wurdinger said. “Taxes, immigration, driver’s licenses for illegals. We voted the license thing down several times, and (Brown) just came along and overrode our votes after we’d voted it down overwhelmingly. That was the straw on the camel’s back to me.”
By around 2 p.m., Diggins and Quinby had accumulated nearly 100 signatures, and called Lathrop to ask her to deliver more forms.
“They were too busy at the booth to even drive 2 miles to get more forms,” Lathrop said.