On Tuesday night, Gov. Kate Brown secured her spot as the Democratic candidate for governor and Rep. Knute Buehler sealed his as the Republican nominee.
But there is still one nomination up for grabs: the nod from the Independent Party of Oregon. As of Wednesday afternoon, the majority of the votes for the Independent Party’s gubernatorial nominee were write-ins.
Someone voted for LeBron James, another for Donald Duck.
“I was surprised Mickey Mouse only got one vote,” said Dan Meek, one of the party’s co-chairs.
But the bulk of those write-in votes are most likely for either Brown or Buehler, Meek said. Both candidates tried to appeal to the state’s Independent party throughout the campaign. And here’s why: if they get the nomination, on the November ballot next to their party affiliation “Republican” or “Democrat,” it will also list “Independent.”
“It could encourage some voters to view them as nonpartisan,” said Sal Peralta, the party’s secretary.
The Independent Party of Oregon has about 121,000 members and was granted major party status in 2015. The party initially formed with the goal of making it easier for candidates whose views don’t match those of Republican or Democrats a chance to be on the ballot. The party’s platform has since evolved and is centered around campaign finance and ethics reform, government transparency and economic frugality.
The write-in votes have to be hand counted. Counties across the state are tallying those votes now and the state’s Secretary of State Office hopes to have the results in a couple of weeks.
Meek is convinced and hopeful an actual member of the Independent Party of Oregon wins. Early ballot returns suggest that will happen.
Patrick Starnes, a member of the IPO, has captured about 26 percent of the votes. He is the leading non write-in candidate. His main platform, according to his website, is to get money out of politics.
The idea the two major party candidates can seek the IPO’s nomination infuriates him.
“It’s stupendously rigged and unfair,” Meek said of the current system.
Brown’s campaign sent mailers to independent voters urging them to write her name in. It noted, “Across Oregon, women are writing in Kate Brown for Governor.”
While Buehler’s mailer touts him as a “compassionate, pro-choice, pro-marriage, equality medical doctor who led the charge to give Oregon women access to over-the-counter birth control.”
A candidate with the Independent Party of Oregon has yet to win a general election campaign.