Effort to Recall Senate President Peter Courtney Fails to Gather Necessary Signatures

Legislature's longest-serving member survives challenge from constituent.

Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) first won election to the Oregon Legislature in 1980, when Jimmy Carter was still the U.S. president.

After 35 years as a lawmaker, there's little Courtney hasn't seen, including periodic eruptions of constituent ire.

This year, Matt Geiger, a former GOP House candidate from Woodburn, got angry enough to launch a recall campaign against Courtney.

There was some reason to believe Geiger had a chance to gather the 4,800 valid signatures to place a recall vote on the ballot. The number represents fewer than 1 in 11 of the 53,000 registered voters in Courtney's district. And the district includes nearly 14,000 registered Republicans.

But the deadline for submission of signatures was yesterday, and the secretary of state's elections division says Geiger did not turn in any signatures.

Geiger says his campaign, which raised $8,300, gathered nearly the 4,800 signatures required. But he says that because the validation process often knocks out a significant percentage of signatures, he knew they didn't have enough.

"We were close," Gieger says. "I don't have the exact count but we've put him on notice and built a strong network to replace him in 2018."

The failure has statewide significance. Courtney, who has served as Senate President for a record seven sessions, exercises enormous control over lawmaking and budget-writing alongside House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland).

The Senate president, who will celebrate his 73rd birthday on Saturday, declined to comment on the failure of the recall effort other than to offer this statement:

"I've worked hard to be a good public servant…always have…always will," Courtney said. "It's the only way I know how to serve."