Independence, from the Bottom Up

Sal Peralta, the secretary of the Independent Party of Oregon, has written an op-ed (see: One Independent not the Same as Another at Oregon Live) intended to clear up misconceptions about the party purveyed by Oregon's local political press.

The Independent Party of Oregon was formed in response to new laws adopted by the Legislature in 2005 that effectively doubled the number of signatures needed for non-affiliated candidates to qualify for the ballot. They also removed the word "independent" from the Oregon ballot and replaced it with the word "non-affiliated" to describe candidates who are not a member of a political party. In response to these new laws, citizen activists collected 30,000 signatures to form the Independent Party of Oregon. When the party was formed, the primary goal was to provide ballot access to independent-minded candidates who were not affiliated with either major party.

The party's electoral strategy differs from that of many third parties, and focuses on state level rather than federal offices:
Our preference is to run legislative candidates in districts where there is only one major party candidate running. In 2008, in 31 out of the 75 races for the Oregon Legislature there was only one major party candidate, with no opposition from the other major party. We believe that every Oregon voter deserves a credible choice on the November ballot and, where possible, strive to provide voters with that alternative. (Emphasis added.)
Their legislative agenda thus focuses on easing ballot access restrictions for minor parties, and holding state government accountable to its citizens. In 2008 the Democratic Party expanded its majority in the state government. Currently, Oregon's State Senate has thirty members, 12 Republicans and 18 Democrats, while its State House has seventy-five members, 36 Democrats and 24 Republicans. If almost half of the seats in its State House of Representatives were decided by uncontested elections in 2008, we may see some worthy challengers fielded by the Independents in the near future.

No comments: