By Thomas Crawford of Portland, Oregon. Thomas is a full time student and part-time politics junkie at the University of Puget Sound, where he studies U.S. Politics and Creative Writing.
Earlier this month, the Independent Party of Oregon held a special primary election to determine who would represent them on the ballot in November, and in a vast majority of the House races, the Democrats soundly defeated, if not embarrassed, most of their Republican opponents.
The story is similar in a lot of big House races. Chris Gorsek in HD 49, Gresham and East Multnomah County, got 76% of the vote. In HD 51, Shemia Fagan got six times the votes of her opponent. Caddy McKeown and David Gomberg, candidates on the south and central coast respectively, also won in the primary by a significant margin.
Carl Hosticka, a Democrat in West Linn, defeated Republican incumbent Julie Parrish by securing 70% of the IPO votes. This has been a rough few weeks for Parrish- first she loses the Independent vote, then she loses with Republicans. Hosticka certainly has a momentum on his side that Parrish is lacking.
While the turnout in these elections was low, the process for voting was complex and acted as a barrier for many would-be voters. The strong turnout for Democrats shows a superior field program in order to turn out voters even in these circumstances, and will surely be a factor when it comes to GOTV time in November.
These victories are hugely important for these candidates in the November election, thanks to fusion voting, or cross-party endorsements. All of these candidates will be on the ballot not just as the Democratic candidate, but as the Independent candidate as well. As it stands, these districts all have more registered Democrats than Republicans, and with over 76,000 Independent voters in Oregon, these candidates have just gained a significant edge over their respective challengers, who should all be feeling a bit like Sisyphus as they look at the campaign ahead.
The fact that Democrats were so successful speaks to the quality of the Democratic legislative candidates, and the quality of Democratic policies they’re proposing. Voters are looking for representatives who aren’t hellbent on protecting tax loopholes for special interests at the cost of early school closures and teaching jobs. Clearly, this what the voters want, regardless of party label.