Hoyle, McLain, and Riley face recalls by gun activists (even though that's dumb)

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

The fight to pass universal background checks in Oregon is getting a bit more high stakes.

Last week, gun activists filed recall petitions against Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Eugene), Rep. Susan McLain (D-Forest Grove), and Sen. Chuck Riley (D-Hillsboro). It's unclear why exactly these legislators were targeted, given the broad support among Democratic legislators for the legislation.

I'm guessing that the activists think that these recalls will have the same effect in Oregon as similar efforts did in Colorado -- throwing the legislature into turmoil as seats were flipping from D to R.

Of course, that betrays a woeful misunderstanding of recalls work in Oregon.

First, a sidenote: You might remember that in January, recall paperwork was submitted for Governor Kitzhaber. The petition was rejected because he had not been in office for six months. That six-month waiting period is true for all elected officials in Oregon, except legislators. Legislative recalls are allowed any time after the fifth day of the legislative session.

OK, here's how the process works:

Here's the key: By law, a recalled Democrat must be replaced by another Democrat. Unlike Colorado, there is zero chance that any of these seats will change party control.

(In fact, my reading of state law suggests that that the party and the county commission could simply re-appoint the just-recalled elected official. That might be unlikely, particularly on the part of the county commission, since they'd be going against the "will of the voters", but it seems possible.)

So, while it might satisfy some activist primal urge to punish these legislators, it's unlikely that there would be any meaningful policy difference.

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