Recall effort heats up on the North Coast
With the Dec. 4 deadline quickly approaching to file the 4,833 signatures necessary to initiate a recall vote against state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell, D-Astoria, both Timber Unity and the House Democratic Caucus' campaign arm Future PAC are ramping up their efforts.
Members of the timber lobbying group Timber Unity filed a petition on Sept. 5 to recall Mitchell, a freshman legislator who won election to represent the north coast in 2018 with 49 percent of the vote.
They take issue with Mitchell's voting record on several topics, but most prominently her support of HB 2020, the bill that would have adopted the Oregon Climate Action Program creating a cap and trade system for carbon emissions.
So far, the Recall Tiffiny Mitchell PAC has raised about $13,000 in in-kind contributions toward its cause and is engaging in a wide-sweeping canvass of house district 32 which includes portions of Clatsop, Tillamook and Washington Counties.
According to Timber Unity board member Marie Bowers, despite the district's rural geography and difficult terrain, the group is confident it will be able to submit the signatures it needs by Dec. 4. It plans to hold a major canvassing event this Saturday, Oct. 5 across parts of the district, and will hold a town hall-style meeting on Saturday, Oct. 19 at an undetermined time and location to educate voters. It plans to release the details of that event on their website, Timberunity.com, in the coming weeks.
"We have volunteers out knocking on doors every weekend. Overall, it's had a positive response as we're going out and meeting people," Bowers said. "Logistically it's been somewhat of a challenge, but that's why we put a lot of effort into the mailers, and we're hoping to catch people going into town to run their errands and get some signatures."
On the other side, Future PAC is fundraising to combat the recall effort by Timber Unity.
Earlier this week, Future PAC Executive Director Hannah Love sent out an email to constituents calling out the recall as frivolous.
"It's OK to disagree on important issues — that's what our democracy is all about. But it's not alright waste taxpayer time and money with an unnecessary recall, just because you disagree with the outcome of an election," Love wrote.
Future PAC's message echoes that of Mitchell herself, who in early September released a statement saying she doesn't believe Timber Unity is using the recall process appropriately.
"(Recalls) should be used for situations where an elected official has committed a crime or a major ethical violation, not just because someone disagrees with their policy positions or the outcome of the election," she said.
But Future PAC isn't the only detractors of the recall effort. Just last week, the Daily Astorian published a guest opinion from high-profile supporter of Timber Unity, United Steelworkers Local 197 President Bill Kerr — who represents workers who feel threatened by cap and trade legislation at the Georgia Pacific Wauna Mill in Clatskanie, just outside district 32. In the commentary, Kerr outlined how he felt the recall effort would lead to more of the same: another Democrat who won't stand up for working families.
But according to Bowers, Timber Unity isn't necessarily pushing for a Republican, rather any legislator who would support keeping blue collar jobs in and around districts like Mitchells.
"We want good governance. We want legislators who don't bow to Portland special interest and that stand up for working Oregonians. It's a misconception that Timber Unity is a wing of the GOP. It's very far from the truth," Bowers said.
Whichever way the cards fall, both sides see this recall as barometer for the upcoming 2020 election season where Democrats will work to safeguard their supermajority and Republicans will fight to gain leverage in legislature where they've been largely overruled of late.