Recall 2.0: Who are you, and where have you been?
The effort to recall Portland's creepy mayor has bombed out, to no one's surprise. It had no money, and seemingly no one with any serious experience running a political campaign was involved. Few recognizable public figures came forward in support of it, and even the appearance of former Mayor Tom Potter on its behalf came far too late. Most significantly, the factions that control city politics -- the public employee unions, the "green" Bus kid types, the Arlington Club money types, and the gay community -- didn't make a strong statement in support of the recall, while the talk-radio fringe on the right did. That was a turnoff for many voters.
Another aspect of the recall that bugged us was the paranoia. The promoters of the recall effort hid their identities for weeks. They actually told people to keep their cash contributions below the threshold for campaign finance reporting, so as to avoid retaliation. And in the waning moments of the doomed petition drive, the announcement was made that the collected signatures wouldn't be turned in, for the same reason. All of this cloak-and-dagger stuff was tacky in the extreme. Anyone who truly feared retaliation wasn't going to give any money or sign the petition. The secrecy seemed more an excuse to level an extra accusation at the mayor (one that couldn't be proven) than it did an honest effort to protect anybody. The many speeches about fear of reprisal got stale long before the deadline arrived.
The way in which the campaign is ending is also raising some eyebrows. Rather than destroy the signatures they gathered, the organizers of Recall 1.0 are giving them over to another group, Recall 2.0, of which the public knows virtually zero. That may not be an illegal use of the signatures, but it's not a pretty one. Now the folks who cared enough to sign will be bothered at home by a new group seeking another signature. This is sure to annoy at least some of them.
And speaking of the new group, who the heck are they, and why are they hiding? Who are their leaders? Where is their money going to come from? Unless they come forward with full transparency, and soon, they'll inspire little trust among the populace.
And where have they been the last nine months, while precious time was a-wastin'? If they are going to mount a well funded, professionally run campaign, that will be a welcome development. But even if that's what they've got in mind, they should have stepped up with it before they let the volunteer amateurs of Recall 1.0 spin everyone's wheels throughout the crucial 90-day time frame that began on July 1. Getting a recall on the ballot is going to be harder now than it was then -- and the likelihood of actually winning a recall election has gotten smaller than ever.
Those who want to remove the mayor from office had a full six months to get their act together and engineer a signature drive that would make it possible. If they couldn't get it done then, there is no reason to think they will be able to do so now. Too bad for Portland.