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Friday, March 3, 2006


I'm quitting the Democratic Party. At least for now.

As a recent thread on this blog revealed, if you're a member of either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party in Oregon, under a new law you can't sign a petition for any independent candidate for office if you vote on anything in the primary. And by anything, I do mean anything -- nonpartisan races (such as all the local offices in the Portland area and all the judgeships) and ballot measures included. Indeed, even if you send your ballot back blank, you're still disqualified from signing a petition for an independent. If you try to do both, your signature won't count.

That's a terrible law, and every member of the Legislature who voted for it should be ashamed. And that includes people who should have known better, like Kate Brown, Vicki Walker, Greg Macpherson -- shame! Of course, the governor who signed it is equally cuplable.

The new law is probably unconstitutional, but who has time to wait for that to be hassled out? I want to sign for Westlund, and so I'm getting out now.

Plus, really, what do you gain by Demo Party membership? The right to vote in party primaries is all I see. And what difference does that ever make for me? I'm in Blumenauer's district. The folks who run against him have no chance. As does anyone who runs against Wyden. And when presidential election time rolls around, the Oregon primary is usually too late to make any difference, either.

I'm out of there, at least for '06. Somebody give me the form to change my party affiliation. I have until April 25 to get it in the mail.

Comments (36)

I bolted the GOP a number of years ago to claim the Independent banner. My concern remains similar to yours - the Parties provide nothing, I must repeat, nothing to the world of problem solving. Their forums may have always been simply about the practice of acquiring power, using power, maintaining power and its currency analog. Give us Charlie Ringo's world of non-partisan election processes and we may begin to unravel the arcane partisan rules that stand between our well-intentioned public servants and the world they are hired to do.

Peace Be With You. Hope you have a great Lent!


world should read work - sorry about the sloppy writing.


Please tell me how to get out of my party affiliation. I am newly registered and out of pride(?) I checked Democrat. Finally for once I was hopping off the fence and picking a side.

Where do I get the "change party affiliation form"?


Oregon's voter registration form can be found here.

Note that Republicans have the same problems... this assinine law impacts members of all parties.

So what happens if you're a Libertarian or Greener?

Also, five minutes at your local county elections department will do it - a very short form. I've dropped both the R&Ds in my life and it felt real good each time. Being Independent may (currently) remove us from the primary but our growing number is sending a signal to the comfortably entrenched. By the way, does anybody have a breakdown of which legislators voted for/agin this law?

So what happens if you're a Libertarian or Greener?

For purposes of registration status, it doesn't really matter if you are registered in a major party (Dems or Rs) or minor (Green, Lib). Either you're a member of a party or you're not.

But while Jack's protest - I think - is aimed at the Dems who passed this (Burdick, MacPherson, ect.), participation in this year's primary, not party registration, is what the Secretary of State is going to be looking at with the Westlund petitions.

I'm not defending this law - it was poorly thought out and is having the unintended (or intended, depending on your perspective) consequence of confusing and disenfranchising voters from the process.

Yay. Another one of 'us'...!

FYI, I've been registered as an independent the whole time I've lived in Oregon (8+ years and counting) and have never felt that missing out on a partisan election hurt me *or* the candidate I might have wanted to vote for.

And I've always voted Democratic where possible, campaigned for Kerry, still get all the DPO updates, etc. etc. etc.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that Democratic candidates wouldn't refuse my money just 'cause I wasn't an 'Official Democrat'...

Also, Johnny Edwards is counting on you to come back for '08.

DR: To change or exit a party, you just register again. There is a box on the form for "Not a member of a party".

adron: "So what happens if you're a Libertarian or Greener?"

If you're a member of a party, and you do not participate in your party's process for nominating a candidate to stand for the general election (according to whatever process your party uses) it looks to me like your signature for Westlund would stand. Remember, though, that "participation" for major party members is basically defined as "Voting in May".

However (and the lawyers here may correct me on this) it looks to me like if you do participate in your minor party's nomination process and you sign for Westlund, both forms of participation are disqualified. Check out Jack's post quoting the law, and look at sections 3 and 4.

(The major parties' members are exempt from this double-invalidation, so let's make sure to throw an equal protection complaint into whatever lawsuits arise from this stinker.)

RonaldM: In the comments on Jack's post, I have a reply which identifies those legislators who voted against it and who did not vote on it at all. It's kinda long, so I'll just point you there instead of reposting... it's about halfway down the comment page.

There is one noticeable drawback to being a registered "I" voter, though--you get a TON more automated phone calls as November approaches, because the major parties figure that their registered party members are safe, and they need to concentrate on wooing the indy voters.

Can I switch back over the summer just to get them out of my hair?

I am proud to have voted against this bill because I believed it would inhibit 3rd party and independent participation.

For those of you in Multnomah County who might be interested in changing to independent, you should know that another part of going to independent is that you won't have much of a say in who represents you in the Oregon legislature. Like it or not, the real race in Multnomah legislative districts is in the Democratic party primary. That could change, of course, with the ballot measure.

This election cycle, your independence won't matter much in most of Portland because there are only a few contested races, but for those of you in District 44 (North Portland) and District 46 (Central eastside Portland), there are some very important choices in Democratic party House races.

Just something to keep in mind, particularly if you'd like a say in who in represents you in Salem.

After reviewing all the pros and cons, I guess I won't change more than one of my voter registrations.

I'm switching my dead grandmother from Republican.

Chip, that's Gary Hansen's and Steve March's turf, correct? Who's running in those races? (I'm in 45, with Our Gal Jackie, so it won't affect my decision, but I'm interested.)

Actually, I don't get a ton of automated calls come election season - never have, if I'm remembering correctly...


Mark Kirchmeier is currently running for the House to represent District 44. He is Gary Hansen's Legislative Aide and has been very active in the district. He and his wife and daughters have lived in the Overlook neighborhood for about 15 years.

He has got the endorsements of Rep. Hansen, Mike Burton (who represented the district in the 80s), Metro Counselor Rex Burkholder and about 230 neighborhood leaders and residents. I think he has a very good shot at winning and he will make a fine legislator.

* In the interest of full disclosure, along with being a devoted Bojack reader, I am also Mark's campaign manager.

In District 44:
Tina Kotek
Mark Kirchmeier
Jim Robison
Each has strengths and I'm neutral.

In District 46:
Lynn Partin (who I've endorsed)
Mary Lou Hennrich
Mary Botkin
Ben Cannon
Cindy Banzer

I think all these candidates have web sites now if you do a little searching.

Sounds good. Thanks for the useful information. Too bad the MSM isn't as interested as it should be in these things.

District 46: That's WWP's voter district, now represented by Steve March. It's a wide open contest with March out of the picture.

According to the Secretary of State's office, the following Dems have filed and paid their fees: Lynn D. Partin, Mary Lou Hennrich, Cindy Banzer and Ben Cannon. Jackie Dingfelder and Mary Botkin are listed as pending (meaning they've taken out papers but not filed, presumably). The lone R is Bill Cornett. (Good luck, Bill; the last time District 46 elected a Republican was Gene Sayler, and he ran undercover as a Dem.)

The flyers started appearing in the mailbox last week. Banzer, is a retread from the 1980s, is leaning on that experience to carry her, but frankly we don't remember much of anything positive about her. Cannon looks likes he's right out of high school (not that there's anything wrong with that). The others, we know not so much about. Yet.

so the whole dem can't poke r black jack?


Jackie Dingfelder and Mary Botkin are listed as pending (meaning they've taken out papers but not filed, presumably).

Wait a minute, Dingfelder's been my rep. in gerrymandered 45. Did she move to 46? Heck, maybe I should run (only kidding).

Nope, Jackie hasn't moved and she's coming back. Just a mistake on the site presumably. She's also listed on HD 46.

Yea!!! I'm switching too! :) I printed off the voter reg form the other day... still haven't gotten around to mailing it. (BTW, they're also usually available at the post office.)

Check the blue "govt pages" in your phone book -- there's a voter registration form there, too.

Myself, I'm sticking with the D's and plan to vote on who gets to replace Steve March. Met Ben Cannon at a HOPE meeting (he's a teacher, his wife's a teacher and he's endorsed by Stand for Children). Also met Lynn Partin briefly last night at the Portland Schools Foundation Roast, so interested in learning more about her. It would be nice to have someone who fights for education (and wins) in Salem.

As Mark Hass, one of those roasting last night said, he fully appreciated the irony of a legislator standing up at an event to raise money for schools.


It seems to me that under the current electoral paradigm here in Oregon, the best approach is to register independent, unless you know someone whose running for a state legislator or state senator race who you want to help make it into the general election. In that case, you'd reregister as the appropriate party affiliation.

Living as I do in an overwhelmingly Demo area, with Demo candidates barely running a campaign and ensconced incumbants returning to represent my district. I guess I'm in a "safe" district, so I can afford to go non-partisan.

A friend in the know tells me that you should be sure to register as "non-partison" or "no party affiliation", rather than "independent" because I guess there is an organized "Independent" political party in Oregon. This same friend (who shall remain nameless) gave Westlund good cred. My friend appreciated his "maverick" ways.

I'm almost there....Anybody got any other recommendations? I don't like Teddy. I actively dislike Mannix. Word on the street is that Saxton is a G-man. I don't know much about the rest of the field.

Of course, this is the same petition signing restriction that was passed in George Bush's Texas. But of course, the West Coast's brand of progressive fascism is nothing like Texas' sunbaked fascism. Right. Keep stroking your superiority complex and attending those wine tastings, bearded liberals.


You've got it all wrong: there are a lot of clean shaven liberals here too. And some of them drink beer or Italian sparkling water.

The superiority complex thing is spot on. But you forget to mention the Prius they drive to the wine tastings and the "Stop the War" protests.

I don't understand this thread. You needn't give up your party registration in order to be able to sign Westlund's petition. All you need to do is not vote in the primary. If you're a Democrat, wouldn't you want to wait to make that choice until you see how the primary is shaping up?

Andrew, the parties structure the political process. That's why they are part of every single democratic system in the world. It's only in the US that we have this odd aversion to political parties, a social institution invented right here.

"All you need to do is not vote in the primary."

There are potentially many other issues on the May ballot that have nothing to do with primary races. You'll have to forgo your votes on all those issues. As has been said to death around here, if you return a major party ballot in the May election, your signature for Westlund will be DQ'd.

"It's only in the US that we have this odd aversion to political parties, a social institution invented right here."

If our legislatures had proportional representation, like the parliaments in almost all other democracies, there would be a lot less reason to be averse to parties. Our winner-take-all electoral systems make this two-headed monopoly almost inevitable.

The new law is terrible but as they say, don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out.

We still love you baby.

Ok, potentially. I'll wait and see. Changing your affiliation now seems to me to be jumping the gun.

On PR/FPP and two party duopoly, yep, I'm with you. But the "fix" is not non-partisan elections.

Wait and see if you like, Paul. Just be sure to make up your mind before April 25. :-)

This is the Internet, and there's at least a million lies out here... your skepticism is healthy. So give your county's elections office a call and ask them how HB2614 works. It'll be ten minutes well spent. I'm fairly confident they'll tell you the same thing I told you: Major party members can't both sign to nominate an independent and vote in May; voting in May voids their nomination signatures.

As for the other bit, I'm all ears for other solutions. But whenever the people in charge demonstrate that they are more concerned with staying in power than they are with good governance, that indicates a serious problem. We've got such a problem on our hands here, and we citizens had best get on it.

Sorry to join this conversation late.

I don't live in District 44. But if I did, I'd vote for Tina Kotek.

She is smart, very knowledgable about kids and families issues, and fearless. Stand for Children endorsed her.

We are fortunate in this election cycle to have so many qualified candidates who have never held public office.

The list includes Ted Wheeler, Jeff Cogen, Tina Kotek, and Sam Chase. They all deserve our support.

I know how hard it is to run from the outside. Kudos to them all.

Nick Fish

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