SALEM — With two weeks to go until the May 15 primary, the political tempo is picking up across Oregon, with traditional town-to-town campaigning, newspaper endorsements, an increased number of commercials on television and a flurry of messages, opposition websites and fundraising on the internet.
In the background of the primary, groups are still working hard to get a slew of initiatives on the state ballot for November, and lawmakers are gearing up for a special session of the Legislature on May 21.
Here’s some of the news from in and around the Capitol:
Assault weapon initiative gets a ballot title
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has filed a draft ballot title for Initiative Petition 43, a proposed gun control initiative seeking to qualify for the November general election ballot.
A ballot title is a short, nonpartisan statement of the effect of a proposed ballot measure. The draft for Initiative Petition 43 states that if approved, it “criminalizes possession or transfer of ‘assault weapons’ (defined) or ‘large capacity magazines’ (defined), with exceptions.”
Under the initiative, the definitions are: “Assault weapons include certain semiautomatic rifles or pistols with a detachable magazine; pistol or rifles with a fixed magazine holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition; certain semiautomatic shotguns. Large capacity magazine is ammunition feeding device with capacity of more than 10 rounds.”
The draft ballot title is just the first step to get the initiative before the public for a signature drive. First, the public has until May 8 to comment on the title. It could then be appealed and challenged in court. Only when the title is approved can petitions be circulated. Under state law, supporters would have to submit 88,184 valid signatures by July 6.
Those proposing the initiative said it would significantly limit access to semi-automatic versions of firearms created for the military, such as variants of the popular AR-15. Such guns, available for sale at gun shops and some general merchandise stores, have been used in recent mass shootings. Gun rights advocates say it is government overreach that won’t solve the problem of criminal actions with firearms.
If approved by voters in the Nov. 6 general election, the law would take effect Jan. 1, 2019. Oregon residents who already own the restricted weapons would be “grandfathered” into the law, allowing them to keep their weapons after a criminal background check by the state.
Buehler on the stump
As the primary approaches, Bend gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler has been out on a Southern Oregon campaign swing. Last week, he was in Medford, Klamath Falls and Coos Bay for meetings with community and business groups. Meanwhile, Buehler also received endorsements in the GOP race for governor from the state’s two largest newspapers, The Oregonian in Portland and The Register-Guard in Eugene, as well as the Willamette Week alternative newspaper. He capped the week by throwing out the first pitch Friday at the Oregon State-Arizona State baseball game in Corvallis. Buehler pitched for the Beavers while attending Oregon State.
Greg Wooldridge, the motivational speaker and former naval aviator seeking the Republican nomination for governor, has received more than half of his $227,000 in campaign funds from two out-of-state contributors. Last week, Wooldridge received a $25,000 donation from Wingate Enterprises, a Las Vegas company that does business under the name of Pacific Bottling Services. According to the company website, it’s owned by Noel Arce and has its headquarters in Dayton, Oregon. Because the LLC was created in Nevada, the contribution is listed as “out-of-state” by the Secretary of State. Wooldridge, who did not enter the campaign until February, previously received $100,000 from Daybreak Investments of Alamo, California. Wooldridge has also received a $15,000 contribution from Robert Freres Jr., an Oregon lumber company owner. Willamette Week reported in August that Freres hosted a dinner of conservative activists, including leaders of the anti-abortion group Oregon Right to Life, where they tried to convince House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, to run against Buehler for the GOP nomination for governor. McLane declined to run and later endorsed Buehler.
Gov. Kate Brown has called a special session of the Legislature for May 21. Oregon is among 35 states where a special session of the Legislature can be called by the governor or the Legislature itself. In 15 states, including California, only the governor can call a special session.
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