State Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell, the freshman Democrat facing a recall campaign by #TimberUnity over her support of a cap-and-trade bill and other legislation, called the effort inappropriate.
The rural advocacy group launched the recall petition and formed the Recall Tiffiny Mitchell PAC on Thursday.
Recalls are meant “to deal with the most egregious sort of violations of ethics, for people who have truly, truly done something wrong,” the Astoria Democrat said. “I’m not sure that’s necessarily what’s happened here.
“I’m not necessarily sure that the recall being used in this context is appropriate. But if that’s what people want to do, that’s what they want to do.”
Darren Mead, owner of Action Sign Works in Miles Crossing, started the recall petition. His company has printed many of the #TimberUnity stickers popping up around the region.
“I was approached by someone with #TimberUnity after I had already been thinking about it, because I don’t feel that she is really representing the area and the industries in the area,” Mead said.
Mitchell has taken heat from #TimberUnity and others over her vote for the failed state House Bill 2020. The bill would have created a carbon cap-and-trade system requiring large industrial polluters to buy allowances to go over pollution caps, investing the proceeds in climate-friendly initiatives.
Opponents argued the bill would have raised gas prices without significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, endangering trucking, logging, the Georgia-Pacific Wauna Mill and other regional industries. The bill exempted lumber mills and provided free allowances for the first year to trade-dependent facilities like the Wauna Mill.
Another target of #TimberUnity was state House Bill 2007, which will phase out older diesel engines in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.
The group has also criticized Mitchell’s votes to reform the Public Employees Retirement System, which has soured her support among union members who backed her election campaign in 2018, and to enact a gross receipts tax on businesses to fund the Student Success Act, projected to add $1 billion a year in education funding.
“I think it’s unfortunate that some folks don’t see how much those bills — particularly the Student Success Act, which they have mentioned a lot — will actually end up positively impacting so many Oregonians,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell was in Astoria on Sunday for a town hall at Clatsop Community College and a rally by Columbia Memorial Hospital nurses related to labor negotiations.
Nurses held the event at Fort George Brewery, which faced its own backlash and boycott from #TimberUnity and others over co-owner Jack Harris’ support of the climate bill.
Harris apologized for using Fort George to personally advocate for the bill. The brewery, along with Dutch Bros. Coffee and other businesses, broke with a coalition of businesses supporting the legislation after the backlash.
Mead’s is the third recall campaign launched against a state Democrat this year. The Oregon Republican Party and Michael Cross, a Lincoln City resident, have launched recall campaigns against Gov. Kate Brown. The efforts against the governor need 280,000 verified signatures by Oct. 14.
The petition to recall Mitchell needs 4,883 signatures in 90 days to force an election. The campaign seeks around 6,000 signatures, Mead said. Mead is confident volunteers can gather enough signatures, and that Mitchell can be recalled by voters in a heavily Democratic district.
“To me, it’s not a Democrat versus Republican issue,” he said. “It’s an issue on, here’s a person who’s a state representative for this district that I don’t feel is representing our district.”
If Mitchell is recalled, commissioners in Clatsop, Tillamook, Yamhill and Washington counties would choose a Democratic replacement.
Mitchell is up for reelection next year.