The effort to recall the state's longest-serving and most powerful legislator just moved beyond griping into a genuine threat—with the formation on Monday of a political action committee and a first contribution worth $5,000.
Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem), 72, who first won a legislative seat in 1980, faces criticism over the short legislative session that finished earlier this month.
Critics blame Courtney for allowing the short session to morph from a low-key, housekeeping exercise to one that features ambitious, complex legislation—which, with large Democratic majorities, means major setbacks for Republicans.
This year, Democratic interest groups pushed through major policy bills, including perhaps the nation's most ambitious minimum wage hike and a big increase in Oregon's renewable energy requirements.
Matt Geiger, who had been registered to run for a Woodburn House seat as independent, raised the possibility earlier this month of pursuing a recall against Courtney, whose grip the Legislature's upper chamber has tightened over the year.
Courtney has now served as Senate president for seven full terms, longer than any previous holder of that position.
On March 14, Geiger filed papers for a group called "Protect the People—Recall Senator Courtney."
That group will now seek approval from elections officials for petitions to circulate. If they get that approval, they will have 90 days to gather 4,760 valid signatures. That's the number required to put the recall question on the ballot and is about one-third of the number of registered Republicans in Courtney's district.
Courtney's supporters had hoped that the passage of House Joint Resolution 202, a bill that allocates 1.5 percent of Oregon Lottery proceeds to veterans services, would placate Geiger. That didn't happen.
On Monday, Andrew Miller, the CEO of Stimson Lumber and a leading GOP donor, wrote a $5,000 personal check to the recall effort.
In a statement, Courtney says he plans to keep doing what he's been doing.
Updated at 3:15 pm with Courtney comment:
"My focus continues to be working hard for the people of Senate District 11," Courtney said. "That's the job voters in Salem, Gervais and Woodburn elected me to do. That's the job I'm going to do."