Fusion Voting and the Oregon Gubernatorial Election

Last year Oregon passed a new law legalizing fusion voting. It will be put to its first high profile test in this year's gubernatorial election. In an article for the Seattle Times, Nigel Duara reports:

This year, a law adopted by the Legislature in 2009 effectively gives the major-party candidates a chance to run under the banner of minor parties, as well. For voters, this means ballots in what's called "fusion voting" may look slightly different. The Democratic nominee, Kitzhaber, says he'll seek nomination as the Independent Party candidate and expects he may win endorsement from the union-backed Working Families Party. That means his name could appear on the ballot with designations of three parties. The Republican nominee, Dudley, refused to comment on his strategy about fusion voting.

However, it is highly unlikely that other third party groups would endorse a Democrat or Republican if they are running their own candidate for the office:

Three parties have conventions this month and expect to nominate candidates for governor — Pacific Green, Libertarian and Constitution. Other parties have conventions scheduled later or, like the Progressive Party, said they're still thinking about it.

Another potential candidate is Portland lawyer John DiLorenzo, who has talked about getting on the ballot as an independent but said last week he has not made up his mind.

Candidates not affiliated with a political party can get on the statewide ballot in two ways, according to the secretary of state's office: holding a convention of 1,000 voters or collecting more than 18,000 signatures.

In discussions of fusion voting, media sources often stress the fact that fusion allows third party groups to have more influence within the major parties, since a major party candidate could potentially earn tens of thousands of votes from a third party's endorsement. While this is undoubtedly true, fusion also allows for the more interesting possibility of cross endorsements between and among third parties themselves. Given the often fractious nature of third party politics, this possibility is slight, but, under fusion voting, it nonetheless remains a real possibility that third party and independent groups could form an electoral alliance backing a true opposition candidate for elected office.

Update: Incidentally, it turns out that over 70 Democrats and Republicans candidates for public office are effectively begging for the endorsement of the Independent Party of Oregon. From Oregon Live, via TPID:
The Independent Party of Oregon today announced the names of 77 candidates seeking the party's nominations to run for seats in the Legislature. Among them are 39 Democrats, 32 Republicans, 5 Independents and a Libertarian.

No comments: