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Another Oregon Republican Faces Recall Over Gun-Control Bill

State Rep. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, introduces legislation on the House floor as the public gallery looks on at the Capitol in Salem, Ore., Tuesday, April 2, 2019.
Bradley W. Parks
State Rep. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, introduces legislation on the House floor as the public gallery looks on at the Capitol in Salem, Ore., Tuesday, April 2, 2019.

State Sen. Lynn Findley opposed Senate Bill 554. Some constituents say he should have walked out over it.

A second Republican in the Oregon Senate is now facing a recall effort, after showing up to oppose a contentious gun-control bill in March.

Earlier this week, a Mount Vernon veteran named Patrick Kopke-Hales initiated a petition process that, if successful, could force a recall election against state Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale.

“Senator Findley’s actions, or inaction, go against the values and principles of the constituents he represents, the oath in which he swore upon, and the Republican Party values, beliefs and principles,” Kopke-Hales wrote on his prospective petition. The effort was first reportedby the Blue Mountain Eagle.

Kopke-Hales has two reasons for wanting Findley ousted, he told OPB.

Findley was one of six Republicans to attend a March 25 floor session, granting quorum to supermajority Democrats against the wishes of many gun rights supporters. Though Findley spoke forcefully against Senate Bill 554 that day, Democrats handily passed the proposal to create new gun storage laws, ban guns in the Capitol and Portland International Airport, and allow Oregon schools and universities to implement their own bans.

“SB 554 is the worst bill I’ve ever read in my life,” Kopke-Hales said Thursday. “We wanted them to deny quorum on this bill.”

Senate Majority Fred Girod is also facing a prospective recallbecause of SB 554′s passage, a fact that reflects increasing pressure on Republicans to flee the Capitol over controversial bills after doing so to block climate change legislation in 2019 and 2020.

The gun-control bill is currently the subject of a referendum effort that could give voters a final say on the law in November 2022.

Findley has also angered some constituents with his decision to introduce Senate Bill 865, a now-scuttled proposal that would have prevented two of his colleagues — Sens. Dallas Heard and Dennis Linthicum — from serving in their current positions leading the state GOP.

In his petition, Kopke-Hales accuses Findley of “meddling in the operation of Republican Party by initiating, supporting and facilitating the unfair precedent that has been presented in Senate Bill 865.”

Kopke-Hales said Thursday that SB 865 was “just icing on the cake,” adding to his concerns about the gun control measure.

In a statement about the recall petition, Findley said he is focused on “serving my constituents and leading our state’s recovery efforts from the failed policies of Kate Brown... Fighting for conservative values in Salem is my priority, not playing political games.”

In order to force a recall election, Kopke-Hales will need to gather 8,289 valid signatures within the expansive and sparse Senate District 30 by Sept. 13, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. He says he’ll have help in doing so.

Kopke-Hales was approached to file a recall petition against Findley by a group of people including HollyJo Beers, he said. Beers is a Milton-Freewater resident who the Eastern Oregonian has reported is affiliated with the Umatilla County chapter of the Three Percenters, a militia-style group that promotes gun rights.

“I’m not one who just goes and does things by myself,” Kopke-Hales said. “I’ve gotta see there are people who are just as pissed off as I am about this.”

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Dirk VanderHart is JPR's Salem correspondent reporting from the Oregon State Capitol. His reporting is funded through a collaboration among public radio stations in Oregon and Washington that includes JPR.