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Think Out Loud

Competing Republican Events Highlight Differences In Party

Pete Springer/OPB/Creative Commons

The Dorchester Conference celebrates its 50th anniversary this weekend. The annual gathering of Republicans in Seaside is billed as a place for “lively debate among political activists about timely issues facing the state, nation and world.”

The agenda for this year’s conference includes debates on same-sex marriage, NSA surveillance, and the Affordable Care Act. Former U.S. Senator Bob Packwood, who founded the Dorchester conference, is among the featured speakers. Leaders of three of Oregon’s conservative advocacy organizations object to the lineup and drafted a letter to the Dorchester board, outlining their reasons for not attending this year’s conference:

While we do not object to sincere debate on pressing issues of the day, the evidence suggest that this year’s Dorchester Conference has turned into a publicity stunt for liberal social causes rather than a forum for Republican dialogue.


The group is holding their own event, called the Rally to Support Religious Liberty, Life, and Fiscal Responsibility, on Saturday, which is also the second day of the three-day Dorchester Conference. Oregon Right to Life executive director Gayle Atteberry, who signed the letter, told The Oregonian she and the others who signed are not boycotting Dorchester or trying to draw people away from the conference in Seaside.

Are you a member of the Oregon Republican Party? Are you planning to attend one of the events this weekend?

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