The Independent Party has had plenty of good press the last 6 months. And as the August 16th, deadline for finalizing major party status nears, there’s been a bit of excitement.
In May and June the IPO had lost membership due to the post off year primary election purge of inactive voters, and at one point was within 72 members of losing major party status. Then the Democratic and Republican Party leadership teamed up to attack the IPO. But most recently a check with the Secretary of State revealed that the IPO is several hundred voters over the major party threshold and should qualify to be on the May 2016 primary ballot as a major party.
And, this week, the IPO had two members join that some readers may recognize.
On Tuesday August 4th, the Bend Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel on the IPO, featuring IPO Secretary Sal Peralta, IPO Counsel Robert Harris, Rep. Knute Buehler and Sen. Betsy Johnson. During the presentation Bend City Councilperson and former Republican State Senator Chris Telfer casually mentioned from the audience during the Q and A session that she was now an IPO member. In 2012 Telfer was beaten in a contested primary by social conservative Republican Tim Knopp. One of the many recent moderate Republican casualties to the GOP’s rightward drift.
Also this week, 2008 GOP nominee for Secretary of State Rick Dancer (He faced Kate Brown in that election), announced on his blog that he had joined the IPO. Dancer’s 2008 platform was relatively moderate and included making the Secretary of State position non partisan and open primaries. Making him an early proponent of election reform and Democracy protection.
Voters say they want a third party, but are very wary of third parties since historically most have been more radical than the Democrats or Republicans. So credibility for any party claiming to be that mythical “Third Party” is crucial. There are two reasons to believe the IPO may be that mythical Third Party. First more independents, Democrats and Republicans are joining the IPO, so it stands to reason that the party will become relatively centrist as more people join. There just aren’t 110,000 radical voters in Oregon. All other minor parties combined together only number less than 43,000. Those are the more radical thinkers. Meanwhile the GOP and Democratic Party continue to drift right and left respectively. So most voters who join the IPO are clearly not far left or far right, nor feel well represented by the GOP and Democratic Party. Who does that leave? Moderate centrists. And now more well known community leaders are joining the IPO which imparts a stamp of approval to voters. So voters are coming around to the realization that this time, just maybe, there really is a realistic third party choice for Oregon voters and independents.
The IPO as a nascent party that will need care and attention from it’s members. But it is showing great signs of promise.