The Independent Party of Oregon (IPO) is the state’s third largest political party with more than 75,000 members. It is larger than all of the state’s other minor political parties combined (Libertarian, Green, Constitution, Progressive, Working Families), 1/10th the size of the Republican Party, and 1/15th the size of the Democratic Party. It is not affiliated with any national organization.
The Independent Party was formed in 2007 in response to legislation that removed the word “independent” from the Oregon ballot and made it more difficult to run for public office as a non-affiliated candidate. The party was initially created to provide ballot access for candidates and to protect the rights of Independent and non-affiliated voters and minor political parties in Oregon.
In 2008 the Independent Party became the first Oregon minor political party in nearly 70 years to cross-nominate candidates of major political parties. The Party sued the Secretary of State for inclusion on the ballot after the Secretary refused to implement the state's fusion voting law and print the party’s name on the ballot lines of four of its major party candidates. The suit was dropped after the IPO and Oregon Working Families Party (WFP) reached agreement with the Secretary on legislative changes to expand Oregon's fusion law to allow candidates to list the identifiers of up to three nominating parties on the November ballot, starting in 2010.
(NOTE: Oregon has a rich history of cross-nominations. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Oregon governor Sylvester Pennoyer and dozens of state legislators were cross-nominated candidates of the People’s Party and either the Democratic or Republican parties.)
In July of 2010, the Independent Party became the first political party in Oregon to conduct a primary election at its own expense. To date, the IPO internet primary election is the largest nominating process ever held by an Oregon minor political party and is the largest binding statewide primary election ever conducted over the internet to be held in the United States.
Approximately 2,500 of the party’s members cast ballots for dozens of contested races involving 70+ candidates including Governor John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, and dozens of incumbent legislators. The Independent Party has 30 nominees currently sitting in the Oregon legislature including 22 in the House and 8 in the Senate. The party composition of IPO nominees in the 2011 Oregon legislature is 17 Republicans and 13 Democrats.