Democratic Party of Oregon

Democratic Party of Oregon
Chairman Meredith Wood Smith
Senate leader Peter Courtney
House leader [[Tina Kotek|Tina Kotek|Tina Kotek]]
Founded 1859 (1859)
Headquarters 232 NE 9th Ave, Portland, OR, USA, 97232-2915
Ideology American liberalism, progressivism, center-left
International affiliation Alliance of Democrats[1]
Official colors Blue
Politics of the United States
Political parties

The Democratic Party of Oregon, based in Portland,[2] is the official Oregon affiliate of the United States Democratic Party. It is recognized by the state of Oregon as a major political party, along with the Oregon Republican Party. The state Central Committee, made up of two delegates elected from each of Oregon's 36 counties and one additional delegate for every 15,000 registered Democrats, is the main authoritative body of the party.[3] After Oregon was admitted into the Union in 1859, the Democratic party controlled the state. Oregon elected twice as many Democrats as Republicans between 1859 and 1879 in statewide elections for governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, and congressmen.[4] The party currently holds 30 members in the State House that has 60 representatives total, and 16 members in the State Senate, out of 30 delegates total.[5] The party also holds the Governor’s office (John Kitzhaber), Attorney General (John Kroger), Labor Commissioner (Brad Avakian), secretary of State (Kate Brown), and State Treasurer (Ted Wheeler). [6] The Democrats also have both U.S senate positions in their state and send three of the five U.S House representatives from Oregon to D.C. Currently there are only 4 representatives from Oregon as the fifth representative, David Wu (D) left his seat in August of 2011.[7]


Current membership



The party's first convention was held in Salem on April 20, 1859. Bitterly divided over the issue of slavery,[9] the convention nominated Lansing Stout, supported by pro-slavery factions led by Joseph Lane,[10] for the United States House of Representatives over incumbent Democrat La Fayette Grover. Democratic control of the state legislature between 1859 and 1879 resulted in the selection of eight democrats as US senators, and only 3 republicans were chosen.[11] Beginning in the 1880s the democrats became the minority party when immigrants from Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota along with foreign countries moving over to Oregon chose the Republican party as their main spokes party. [12] Between 1900 and 1932 the Republicans enjoyed a two-one ratio over the Democrats, and sometimes three-one. There was no real changed even during the FDR years where the Republican registration never dipped below 50% throughout the state. [13] This remained the case until the boom in employment caused by World War II. This resulted in a drastic increase in Oregon population, which benefitted the Democratic party. Workers that came in provided a base to rebuild the Democratic party. [14]


As prescribed by Oregon state statutes governing major political parties, the party comprises all registered voters designating their party affiliation as Democrat. In each biennial primary election conducted in even-numbered years, such affiliated voters elect members from each precinct to their respective county's central committee, which in turn elects delegates to a state convention, charged with organizing the party at the state level, and arranging for the day-to-day conduct of the party. These county central committees also send delegates to the standing committees of their respective congressional districts, which support their constituent county central committees and coordinate district-wide party activities and campaigns.


  • Chair: Meredith Wood Smith
  • 1st Vice-Chair: Frank Dixon
  • 2nd Vice-Chair: Jill Thorn
  • Secretary: Tanya Shively
  • Treasurer: Laura Calvo
  • DNC Member: Wayne Kinney
  • DNC Member: Lupita Maurer
  • DNC Member: Mike Radway

Party caucuses

The state party officially recognizes ten party caucuses formed to address specific political issues in their constituent communities:

  • Black Caucus
  • Faith Caucus
  • GLBT Caucus
  • Gun Owners' Caucus
  • Latino Caucus
  • Motorcycle Caucus
  • Rural Caucus
  • Senior Caucus
  • Veterans' Caucus
  • College Democrats' Caucus

Para-party organizations

A variety of organizations of Oregon Democrats have been organized to promote particular issues, causes, or factions within the party, or conversely, to promote Democratic Party initiatives and candidates within particular potential constituency groups. These include neighborhood or local "Democratic Clubs" and Oregon Democrats for Life among others. They have no official standing within the party.


The party's 2010 platform outlines the following positions and policies:[15]

Current elected officials

Members of Congress

Of the seven delegates Oregon sends to the United States Congress, six of them are Democrats.

U.S. Senate

Since 2009, Democrats have held both of Oregon's seats in the U.S. Senate:

U.S. House of Representatives

Democrats hold 4 of the 5 seats Oregon is apportioned in the U.S. House following the 2000 census:

Statewide offices

Democrats hold all 6 of the 6 elected statewide offices:

Legislative leadership

Recent elections

2006 elections

Going into the 2006 elections, Democrats occupied all four of the state's partisan executive offices and held a majority in the Oregon State Senate, but were in the minority in the Oregon House of Representatives. Of the statewide office-holders, only Governor Ted Kulongoski was up for re-election. Not only was he successful in that bid, but Democrats were elected to a slim majority in the House. All four of Oregon's Democratic United States House representatives were re-elected.

2008 elections

In the 2008 elections, Democrats gained a three-fifths majority in the state house and maintained the same majority in the senate despite losing a seat to the Republicans. This majority in both chambers of the Oregon Legislative Assembly is needed to pass bills that raise revenue, as required by Article IV §25 of the state constitution. Democrats maintained control of all state partisan executive offices. They held all four of Oregon's five federal congressional seats, including a retiring Democrat's seat, and unseated Oregon's Republican senator, the only one from the West Coast and the only Republican occupying an office representing the whole of Oregon.

See also


  1. ^ As affiliate of national Democratic Party.
  2. ^ "Contact Us." Democratic Party of Oregon. Retrieved on May 13, 2010.
  3. ^
  4. ^ History of the Democratic Party in Oregon, 1900-1956, Burton, Robert E.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ retrieved on 2/09/10
  9. ^ Carey, 1922, pp. 630–631.
  10. ^ Carey, 1922, p. 631.
  11. ^ History of the Democratic Party in Oregon, 1900-1956, Burton, Robert E.
  12. ^ History of the Democratic Party in Oregon, 1900-1956, Burton, Robert E.
  13. ^ History of the Democratic Party in Oregon, 1900-1956, Burton, Robert E.
  14. ^ History of the Democratic Party in Oregon, 1900-1956, Burton, Robert E.
  15. ^ Staff (2010-06-27). "Legislative Agenda of the Democratic Party of Oregon for 2010". Democratic Party of Oregon. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 


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