SALEM — Independent Party of Oregon candidates will join Democrats and Republicans on May 2016 primary ballots, Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins announced Monday.
The Independent Party qualified for major party status, after the Secretary of State’s Office verified for a second time this year that the party had enough members to meet the state’s requirements. The main upshot is the Independent Party can now participate in state-funded primary elections. Minor parties can participate in general elections, but they have to make their own arrangements to nominate candidates after the May primary.
Although then-Secretary of State Kate Brown ruled that the group qualified in February, Brown said the party had to re-verify it had enough registered party members to qualify on Aug. 16.
Sal Peralta, secretary for the Independent Party, said he was thrilled to hear the news about the group’s new status on Monday.
“It took a lot of work to get us to this point, and we’re really looking forward to having an opportunity to participate in the state’s May primary election,” Peralta said on Monday morning.
Now, Peralta said, the party will quickly shift from registering voters to a more focused effort to recruit 2016 candidates. People who want to run as Independent Party candidates in the May primary must register with the party by Sept. 10, according to a party press release.
“The hope is we’ll find eight to 10 well-qualified people for the state Legislature,” Peralta said.
Peralta said some of those people might soon announce their candidacy, and most will likely seek election in districts west of the Cascades. The Independent Party might also field candidates for local government offices, but Peralta said he did not yet know whether the party will have candidates for statewide offices.
“I see this as year zero in some ways, even though we’ve been at it eight years,” Peralta said.
The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between EO Media Group and Pamplin Media Group.