Two Contested Conventions in Oregon?

It looks like both the Greens and Libertarians could see contested fights at their state conventions for their respective gubernatorial nominations.

From The News-Review:

The drama over who will capture the Republican and Democratic nominations for governor in Oregon may grab most of the headlines, but the state’s two biggest minor parties have their own meaty subplots.

Both the Pacific Green Party and the Libertarian Party could feature contested races for their nominations.

The Pacific Green Party announced it will hold its nominating convention on March 11 in Corvallis. So far, two candidates are running: veteran Pacific Green organizer Joe Keating and party newcomer Ed Winslow.

Oregon’s Libertarian Party has yet to field candidates or schedule its nominating convention. But executive director Richard Burke said several party members are considering a run for governor.

The Pacific Green and the Libertarian parties’ registered voters each represent less than 1 percent of the Oregon electorate. They could still emerge as key players in the November elections, given how the race for governor is shaping up.

Both the Democrats and Republicans heading for contested primaries in May. And a popular Republican lawmaker, Sen. Ben Westlund of Bend, is considering a run as an independent.

That creates the potential for a close finish in the general election, opening the way for a minor-party candidate who could end up spoiling a win for one major-party candidate or the other.

Blair Bobier, a founder of the Pacific Green Party, said progressive voters are unhappy with the record of the current Democratic governor, Ted Kulongoski, on the environment, taxation, health care and education.

Meanwhile, the Libertarians believe that 2006 offers a chance to put pressure on both major parties, Burke said.

Burke said the Libertarian Party would probably seek discussions with both major parties, “decide who is most likely to work with us” and then run a candidate who would most likely appeal to voters from the less Libertarian-friendly of the two major parties.

Three years ago, the Libertarian Party candidate, Tom Cox, drew 4.6 percent of the vote for governor. That was enough for some Republicans to blame him for costing their nominee, Kevin Mannix, the race. Mannix finished with 46.2 percent of the vote vs. Kulongoski’s 49 percent.

Cox has since been persuaded to join the Republican party.

Oregon Republican Party executive director Amy Langdon said her
party was not discounting minor parties’ ability to lure disaffected voters who would otherwise back the GOP nominee.

“You should never underestimate the third-party candidate,” said Langdon.

Neel Pender, her Democratic counterpart, said the Pacific Green candidates have the potential to broaden the political debate on the left. But he said Pacific Green candidates tend to run on the fringe, taking positions so far outside the mainstream that they marginalize themselves.

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