Independent Party of Oregon

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.[2] 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.[3]

Independent Party of Oregon
ChairpersonLinda Williams
Secretary-GeneralSal Peralta
FoundedJanuary 24, 2007 (2007-01-24)
Political positionCenter
ColorsBlue, red
United States Senate
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United States House of Representatives
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Executive offices
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Oregon State Senate
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Oregon House of Representatives
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Ben Westlund

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.[4][5][6] 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 Meek and Party Secretary Sal Peralta also lobbied in favor of repealing HB 2614,[6] which was repealed at the end of the 2009 legislative session.[7]

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.[8]


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.[9][10] 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.[9]


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.[4] 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[11] was cross-nominated by the Independent Party. The Party asked the Secretary of State to enforce existing Oregon law (ORS 254.135)[12] and allow Haugen to appear on the ballot as a "Republican, Independent."[13][14] 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[15][16]

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.[8]


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.[17][18]


The IPO became the first political party in the United States to conduct a binding statewide Primary Election entirely over the internet.[19] 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.[20] The election was the largest nominating process ever held by an Oregon minor political party.[21]

Brian Boquist is the only current Independent Party legislator


The Oregon legislature drew condemnation from five Oregon newspaper editorial boards[22][23][24][25][26] and from two former Secretaries of State[27] 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.[28][29][30]


In 2021, Oregon State Senator Brian Boquist left the Republican Party and joined the Independent Party.


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.[33]


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,[33] 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

2008 electionEdit

Jeff Merkley

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.[34] Independent Party member Jim Torrey was defeated by incumbent mayor Kitty Piercy in Eugene's non-partisan mayoral election, 48.8% to 47.4%.[35]

2008 IPO general election resultsEdit

Race Candidate Party Notes Votes
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.[36]

2010 electionEdit

John Kitzhaber

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.[37] 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.[27]

Winners of the IPO Primary election included Governor John Kitzhaber and 30 people who served in the Oregon legislature in 2011.[38] 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.[39]

IPO 2010 general election resultsEdit

Race Candidate Party Result Notes
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

2016 electionEdit

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.

2018 electionEdit

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.[40] In late October, Starnes dropped out and endorsed Gov. Kate Brown for her re-election, this action was not backed by the party.[41] Despite having ended his campaign, Patrick Starnes received 2.86% of the popular vote in the November election.[42]

2020 electionEdit

The Independent Party nominated Joe Biden for 2020 United States Presidential election. However, Biden only had the Democratic Party nomination listed on the ballot.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Independent Party Announces 2009 legislative agenda". Independent Party of Oregon. Archived from the original on 2009-08-19. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "Independent Party now a major party". Statesman Journal. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  4. ^ a b "Independent Party Voter's Pamphlet Statement". Oregon Secretary of State. p. 33. Retrieved February 26, 2009.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-11. Retrieved 2009-02-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ a b "Our Party". Independent Party of Oregon. Archived from the original on 2009-01-11. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
  7. ^ Wong, Peter (July 17, 2009). "Bill eases path for outsider candidates: A 2005 law made it harder for non-party runners to qualify". The Statesman Journal.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ a b "Waldport Mayor becomes first Independent to hold public office". Independent Party of Oregon. Archived from the original on 2009-03-13. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
  9. ^ a b Jaquiss, Nigel (March 7, 2007). "Party On, Party Off". Willamette Week. Archived from the original on October 10, 2008. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  10. ^ Linda Williams; Chief petitioner; Independent Party of Oregon. "Sins of Omission". Willamette Week. Archived from the original on January 9, 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "ORS -Chapter 254 — Conduct of Elections".
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-29. Retrieved 2009-03-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Independent Party goes to court to win ballot fight". The Oregonian. 2008-08-12.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Our Party". Salem Statesman Journal. Retrieved 2009-08-14.[dead link]
  18. ^ "Minor Parties Major Roadblock". Willamette Week. Archived from the original on 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
  19. ^ "E-voting not ready yet". Oregonian. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
  20. ^ "Kitzhaber adds Independent Party nomination to his ballot line". Oregonian. 2010-07-30. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
  21. ^ "Oregon Independent Party Releases Results of its Private Primary". Ballot Access News. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
  22. ^ "Legislative process takes the low road in keeping secrets about bill sponsors". Klamath Falls Herald & News. 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
  23. ^ "An attack from nowhere". Eugene Register-Guard. 2011-04-19. Archived from the original on 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
  24. ^ "The war of independents". Oregonian. 2011-04-15. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
  25. ^ "What's next, word police?". Albany Democrat-Herald. 2011-04-13. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
  26. ^ "The more the merrier". Medford Mail-Tribune. 2011-04-13. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
  27. ^ a b "Former Secretaries of State Slam Attempt to Kill Independent Party". Willamette Week. 2011-04-13. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  28. ^ "Biggest Oregn minor party faces 'execution' bill". Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-04-24.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "Oregon Capitol mystery: Who wants to kill the Independent Party?". Oregonian. 2011-04-17. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
  30. ^ "No one testifies for bill banning Independent Party of Oregon". Albany Democrat-Herald. 2011-04-14. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
  31. ^ Retrieved 01/21/10
  32. ^ Retrieved 5/15/2011
  33. ^ a b "Bylaws of the Independent Party of Oregon" (PDF). Independent Party of Oregon. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
  34. ^ "Official Results – November 4, 2008 General Election". Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-01. Retrieved 2009-03-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  36. ^ "Kate Brown picks up Independent Party endorsement". 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
  37. ^ "An experimental primary". Eugene Register-Guard. 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  38. ^ Harry Esteve (June 3, 2010). "Lots of legislative candidates want Independent Party nomination". The Oregonian. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  39. ^ "Oregon Independent Party Legislative Nominee in November 2010 Set 80-Year Record". Ballot Access News. 2011-01-21. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^

External linksEdit