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Government and Politics

Independent Party Looks Ahead After First Election As Major Party

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Joe Wolf
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Flickr - tinyurl.com/z8o86qr

The Independent Party of Oregon is looking ahead after their first time being on a general election ballot as a major party. The group didn't win any races but leaders say the party did make its presence known.

Last summer the Independent Party finally gained enough voters to qualify as Oregon's third major party. That meant the state paid to run its May primary, just like it does for Democrats and Republicans. But relatively few races on the general election ballot featured Independent Party candidates.

Party Secretary Sal Peralta said their success often came down to money.

"Where our candidates were able to get their message out, they did pretty well,” Peralta said. “And where they weren't able to get their message out because they weren't able to raise the money, they just did less well."

No Independent Party candidate came close to winning but some did pass the 30 percent threshold in races with just one other major party candidate. The party's best showing in a statewide race was in the contest for Treasurer. That's where former Republican state Sen. Chris Telfer received 9 percent of the votes in a race that ultimately went to Democrat Tobias Read.

More than 168,000 Oregonians voted for Telfer. That was well more than Read's margin of victory over the second-place vote getter, Republican Jeff Gudman.

More than 92,000 Independent Party voters cast a ballot. That's well under the number of Democrats and Republicans, but the Independent Party's turnout rate was very close to the statewide voter turnout rate.

Some Democratic and Republican candidates were cross-nominated by the Independent Party during the May primary, meaning the Independent Party's name appeared alongside the "Democrat" or "Republican" label on the ballot. Peralta said the party will work to remind cross-nominated candidates who won to respect the party's principles during the 2017 legislative session.

The party's platform includes calls to "reduce special interest influence over government processes," and to "increase transparency in government."