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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Independent Party Gains Major Status

Oregon DOT

The Oregon Secretary of State’s office announced Monday the Independent Party of Oregon has enough voters to achieve the same status as Democrats and Republicans.

Independent candidates will appear on the 2016 ballot after the party attracted the necessary 5 percent of Oregon voters to qualify. Now, they’ll have less than one month to get Independent candidates to run.

“One of the big criticisms of this party has been that it doesn’t act like a party,” said Oregon political analyst Jim Moore.

He said the party has had trouble with that in the past.

“One of the things that parties do is they recruit candidates,” Moore said. “The Independent party in 2014 did not recruit candidates; they had the smallest number of candidates of any of the minor parties.”

Sal Peralta, secretary of the Independent Party of Oregon, said that’s because the party has a different philosophy.

“Our model is to recruit candidates for local offices and state legislative offices in districts where there isn’t a lot of competition,” he said. “The idea being we provide voters with a credible mainstream alternative.”

The party’s status could be short-lived. In 2017, voters will be automatically registered with driver’s license information. The party might not be able to hold on to enough voters after that. Independents qualified this time with only about 600 voters above the minimum requirement.