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Foes of top-two primary organize

Coalition unites Democrats, Republicans, some minor parties.


Oregon Democrats and Republicans may have little in common, but both major parties are part of a coalition opposed to changing Oregon’s closed primary for nominating candidates.

Opponents of Measure 90 have organized as the Protect Our Vote coalition, which includes the Pacific Green and Oregon Progressive parties and a number of labor unions.

However, Measure 90 has support from the major-party nominees for governor: Democratic incumbent John Kitzhaber and Republican rival Dennis Richardson, a five-term state representative.

Measure 90 on the Nov. 4 ballot would allow the top two finishers in a primary, regardless of party affiliation, to advance to the general election. Oregon voters defeated a similar measure in 2008, but California and Washington have converted to top-two primaries.

Under Oregon’s current system, which dates to 1904, only voters registered with the major parties can choose their nominees in primary elections. The parties, under a 1989 law, can open participation to voters not affiliated with any party — except for president — but they have rarely done so.

Among the labor unions opposed are the Oregon AFL-CIO labor federation, Oregon Education Association, Oregon School Employees Association, Oregon Federation of Teachers, Oregon Nurses Association, Locals 503 and 49 of Service Employees International Union, Council 75 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Oregon State Firefighters Council and the PCUN farmworkers union.

The union-funded Our Oregon also is opposed, and coordinating the effort.

Neither side has raised much yet, according to the Oregon secretary of state. Advocates, including the Oregon Business Association political committee, raised about $500,000 to qualify the measure for the ballot.

pwong@PamplinMedia.com

(503) 385-4899

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