Independent Party of Oregon
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The Independent Party of Oregon (IPO) is a political party in the U.S. state of Oregon with more than 125,000 registrants since its inception in January 2007. The IPO is Oregon's third-largest political party and the first political party other than the Democrats or Republicans to be recognized by the state of Oregon as a major political party.
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The Independent Party was formed by voter petition in 2006, after House Bill 2614, a law that made it more difficult for non-affiliated candidates to run for public office in Oregon, was enacted in 2005 by the Oregon State Legislature. The same Legislature disallowed non-affiliated candidates from being labeled as "independent" on ballots, freeing up the name for use by the Independent Party. IPO co-chair Dan Meek was one of two people to publicly testify in the Oregon legislature against both bills. Meek and Party Secretary Sal Peralta also lobbied in favor of repealing HB 2614, which was repealed at the end of the 2009 legislative session.
Prominent party members include Portland attorneys Linda Williams and Dan Meek, former Eugene mayor Jim Torrey, Union County Commissioner Jack Howard and former State Representatives Tony Van Vliet and Bob Pickard.
The IPO was certified by state elections officials on January 24, 2007. The IPO criticized former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury for refusing to print new voter registration cards that would include that party as a choice. A representative of Bradbury's stated that the decision was based on the cost of printing new registration cards, rather than any intent to harm a party.
The IPO ran eight of its own candidates and cross-nominated four major party candidates in the 2008 election, including Democrats Jeff Merkley and Ben Westlund, and Vicki Berger, a Republican. Merkley was nominated by the party after John Frohnmayer, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, withdrew his Independent candidacy. Joel Haugen, a Republican who won the Republican primary in the First Congressional District with more than 70% of the vote was cross-nominated by the Independent Party. The Party asked the Secretary of State to enforce existing Oregon law (ORS 254.135) and allow Haugen to appear on the ballot as a "Republican, Independent." The Secretary of State refused. After the Independent Party, joined by the Working Families Party, lost a circuit court decision that would have allowed Haugen to appear on the ballot as "Republican, Independent," Haugen decided to abandon the Republican nomination so that he could appear on the ballot as "Independent" only. The startling result was that there was no "Republican" candidate on the ballot for the 1st Congressional District of Oregon. The parties withdrew their appeal of the Secretary of State's decision, after the Oregon legislature passed SB 326, which repealed some earlier restrictions on non-affiliated candidates and allowed for "fusion lite" voting
The party recognized Waldport mayor Herman Welch as the first Independent Party member to hold public office. Other Independents to hold local office are Robert Brundage of Sublimity, Soso Nedjeljko of Butte Falls, and Wayne Rofinot of Warren.
The IPO played a significant role in passing legislation to allow a form of Fusion voting, a reform that allows candidates to list multiple party nominations on the Oregon ballot, and helped repeal the 2006 statute that made it more difficult for non-affiliated candidates to run for public office.
The IPO became the first political party in the United States to conduct a binding statewide Primary Election entirely over the internet. 86 candidates participated in the election. Former Governor John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, won the party's nomination in a three-person race. 30 Republicans, 28 Democrats, 3 Independents, and a Libertarian were nominated by the party. The election was the largest nominating process ever held by an Oregon minor political party.
The Oregon legislature drew condemnation from five Oregon newspaper editorial boards and from two former Secretaries of State for considering legislation that would have forced the Independent Party of Oregon to change its name by the end of the year or be disbanded.
The Independent Party of Oregon is one of the largest minor political parties in the United States. From its inception in January 2007 through September 2011, the party added more than 90,000 members, making it the third largest political party in Oregon. As the first chart illustrates, its members account for approximately 40 percent of the net growth in the Oregon electorate from January 2007 to December 2010. It is also larger than all other Oregon minor political parties combined, as illustrated in the second chart.
Major Party Growth Comparison
Minor Party Growth Comparison
The Independent Party of Oregon has come near to or exceeded 5% of total registered voters in all but 6 Oregon counties:
- Baker County 5.78%
- Benton County 4.57%
- Clackamas County 4.96%
- Clatsop County 4.82%
- Columbia County 4.75%
- Coos County 5.22%
- Crook County 6.62%
- Curry County 7.23%
- Deschutes County 7.04%
- Douglas County 5.53%
- Gilliam County 4.65%
- Grant County 5.32%
- Harney County 4.45%
- Hood River County 5.15%
- Jackson County 6.14%
- Jefferson County 6.35%
- Josephine County 6.27%
- Klamath County 5.81%
- Lake County 5.87%
- Lane County 5.29%
- Lincoln County 6.07%
- Linn County 5.76%
- Marion County 4.95%
- Morrow County 4.84%
- Multnomah County 4.16%
- Polk County 5.44%
- Tillamook County 4.71%
- Umatilla County 5.10%
- Union County 5.20%
- Washington County 4.71%
- Wheeler County 5.49%
- Yamhill County 5.46%
According to its bylaws, the Independent Party of Oregon holds a number of positions. The party wants to increase voter participation and involvement. It advocates reform in specific areas of government, wanting to reduce the advantage of incumbency and the influence of campaign contributions on politicians and policy decisions. Areas it singles out for countering special-interest influence are health, education, welfare, and economic security. The party hopes to achieve this through fiscally sound transparent decisions that create a taxation system that benefits all Oregonians.
As prescribed by Oregon statutes governing minor political parties, the party comprises all registered voters designating their party affiliation as Independent. In accordance with party bylaws, the party consists of members and supporting members. A five-person state council of officers, and at-large delegates elected by the party membership, is responsible for conducting the day-to-day affairs of the party. Candidates are nominated in caucuses, the members of which are supporting members of the party, elected by the party's full membership.
- Co-Chair: Linda Williams
- Co-Chair: Dan Meek
- Co Chair: (Rob Harris - resigned 2021)
- Secretary: Sal Peralta
- Treasurer: Joan Horton
- State Council Member: Drew Kaza
- Nominating Caucus: Travis Diskin
The Independent Party became the first Oregon minor political party in more than 80 years to cross-nominate major party candidates for public office. Its candidates generally fared better than other minor party candidates in terms of votes garnered. Joel Haugen received 19% of the vote in a five-candidate race for the U.S. House of Representatives in the first congressional district. State legislative candidates Terry Rilling, Pete Belcastro, and Keith Wangle garnered 40%, 44%, and 30% of the vote respectively in their races for the Oregon House of Representatives. Independent Party member Jim Torrey was defeated by incumbent mayor Kitty Piercy in Eugene's non-partisan mayoral election, 48.8% to 47.4%.
2008 IPO general election resultsEdit
|U.S. Senate||Jeff Merkley||Cross-nominated Democratic||Defeated incumbent Gordon Smith||864,392|
|Oregon State Treasurer||Ben Westlund||Cross-nominated Democratic||Defeated Allen Alley||847,590|
|U.S. House of Representatives, CD1||Joel Haugen||Independent Republican||Lost to incumbent David Wu||58,279|
|State Representative, HD4||Keith Wangle||Independent||Lost to incumbent Dennis Richardson||8,053|
|State Representative, HD5||Pete Belcastro||Independent||Lost to incumbent Peter Buckley||11,653|
|State Representative, HD18||Jim Gilbert||Cross-nominated Democratic||Lost to incumbent Vic Gilliam||11,702|
|State Representative, HD20||Vicki Berger||Cross-nominated Republican||Defeated Richard Riggs||15,829|
|State Representative, HD29||Terry Rilling||Independent||Lost to incumbent Chuck Riley||7,321|
Other candidates: Stephen Bradley (Curry County Commissioner), Col. Dale Potter (Wallowa County Commissioner), Ken Wick (Wallowa County Commissioner). The party also endorsed Kate Brown for Secretary of State.
In July, 2010, the Independent Party of Oregon became the first Oregon political party to conduct a primary election at its own expense in more than 100 years; the first Oregon political party ever to conduct a binding primary election entirely over the internet; and the first Oregon minor political party to conduct a primary election. More than 2000 Independent Party members voted in the election, which involved 77 candidates, including 39 Democrats, 32 Republicans, a Libertarian and Green, making it the largest nominating process ever held by an Oregon minor political party.
Winners of the IPO Primary election included Governor John Kitzhaber and 30 people who served in the Oregon legislature in 2011. Independent Party member Jeff Caton, who ran in House District 48, won 43 percent of the vote. This was the closest a minor party candidate had come to winning federal or state office in Oregon since at least 1932.
IPO 2010 general election resultsEdit
|Oregon Governor||John Kitzhaber||Cross-nominated Democratic||Defeated Chris Dudley|
|State Representative, HD1||Wayne Krieger*||Cross-nominated Republican||Defeated Eldon Rollins|
|State Representative, HD3||Wally Hicks||Cross-nominated Republican||Defeated Barbara Gonzales|
|State Representative, HD9||Arnie Roblan*||Cross-nominated Democratic||Defeated R. Scott Roberts|
|State Representative, HD10||Jean Cowan*||Cross-nominated Democratic||Defeated Becky Lemler|
|State Representative, HD11||Phil Barnhart*||Cross-nominated Democratic||Defeated Kelly Lovelace|
|State Representative, HD13||Nancy Nathanson*||Cross-nominated Democratic||Defeated Bill Young|
|State Representative, HD14||Kevin Prociw||Independent||Lost to Val Hoyle*|
|State Representative, HD15||Bud Laurent||Cross-nominated Democratic||Lost to Andy Olson*||Olson was endorsed by IPO steering committee|
|State Representative, HD16||Rose Cook||Cross-nominated Republican||Lost to Sara Gelser*|
|State Representative, HD20||Vicki Berger*||Cross-nominated Republican||Defeated Mike Powers|
|State Representative, HD21||Marvin Sannes||Cross-nominated Republican||Lost to Brian Clem*|
|State Representative, HD22||Betty Komp*||Cross-nominated Democratic||Defeated Kathy LeCompte|
|State Representative, HD23||Jim Thompson*||Cross-nominated Republican||Defeated Wesley West|
|State Representative, HD24||Susan Sokol-Blosser||Cross-nominated Democratic||Lost to Jim Weidner*|
|State Representative, HD26||Matt Wingard*||Cross-nominated Republican||Defeated Sandy Webb|
|State Representative, HD27||Tobias Read*||Cross-nominated Democratic||Defeated Dan Lucas|
|State Representative, HD29||Katie Riley||Cross-nominated Democratic||Lost to Katie Eyre Brewer|
|State Representative, HD30||Shawn Lindsay||Cross-nominated Republican||Defeated Doug Ainge|
|State Representative, HD31||Ed DeCoste||Cross-nominated Republican||Lost to Brad Witt*|
|State Representative, HD32||Deborah Boone*||Cross-nominated Democrat||Defeated Lew Barnes|
|State Representative, HD35||Gordon Fiddes||Cross-nominated Republican||Lost to Margaret Doherty*|
|State Representative, HD37||Will Rasmussen||Cross-nominated Democrat||Lost to Julie Parrish|
|State Representative, HD39||Bill Kennemer*||Cross-nominated Republican||Defeated Alice Norris|
|State Representative, HD40||Dave Hunt*||Cross-nominated Democrat||Defeated Deborah Gerritzen|
|State Representative, HD41||Carolyn Tomei*||Cross-nominated Democrat||Defeated Hugo Schulz|
|State Representative, HD46||Ben Cannon*||Cross-nominated Democrat||Defeated Russell Turner|
|State Representative, HD48||Jeff Caton||Independent||Lost to Mike Schaufler*|
|State Representative, HD50||Cheryl Myers||Cross-nominated Democratic||Lost to Patrick Sheehan|
|State Representative, HD52||Mark Johnson||Cross-nominated Republican||Defeated Suzanne Vanorman*|
|State Representative, HD54||Jason Conger||Cross-nominated Republican||Defeated Judy Stiegler*|
|State Representative, HD56||Bill Garrard*||Cross-nominated Republican||uncontested|
|State Representative, HD59||John Huffman*||Cross-nominated Republican||Defeated Will Boettner|
- denotes Incumbent
The Independent Party nominated Cliff Thomason as their candidate in the 2016 gubernatorial election. Netting 2.44% of the popular vote. The party did not nominate another 2016 presidential candidate after their endorsed candidate Bernie Sanders dropped out of the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries.
In the 2018 Oregon Gubernatorial Election, the Independent Party nominated freelance cabinet-maker Patrick Starnes despite Democrat incumbent Kate Brown and Republican Knute Buehler making efforts to win the party's cross-nomination. Starnes was elected twice to the Douglas Education Service District, and once to the McKenzie School Board. In late October, Starnes dropped out and endorsed Gov. Kate Brown for her re-election, this action was not backed by the party. Despite having ended his campaign, Patrick Starnes received 2.86% of the popular vote in the November election.
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-11. Retrieved 2009-02-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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- https://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Pages/electionsstatistics.aspx Retrieved 01/21/10
- https://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Pages/electionsstatistics.aspx Retrieved 5/15/2011
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