Democratic Party of Oregon
ChairpersonRosa Colquitt
Founded1851 (1851)
Headquarters1220 SW Morrison Street, Suite 910
Portland, Oregon
Youth wingYoung Democrats of Oregon Caucus
Membership (2023)Decrease1,026,458[1]
IdeologyModern liberalism
National affiliationDemocratic Party
ColorsGreen, Blue
U.S. Senate delegation
2 / 2
U.S. House delegation
4 / 6
Statewide offices
5 / 5
Oregon Senate
17 / 30
Oregon House
35 / 60

The Democratic Party of Oregon is the Oregon affiliate of the Democratic Party.[2] 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] The party has 17 special group caucuses which also each have representation on the State Central Committee.

After Oregon was admitted as a state in 1859, Oregon elected twice as many Democrats as Republicans between 1859 and 1879 in statewide elections.[4] It is currently the dominant party in the state, controlling all but two of Oregon's six U.S. House seats, both U.S. Senate seats, both houses of the state legislature, and the governorship.

Platform and legislative agenda

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (February 2022)

The Democratic Party of Oregon hosts a Platform Convention every two years where they set their platform and priority legislative action items. The most recent editions of these documents are available on their website.

At the beginning of the 2022 short session, House Democrats announced priorities such as addressing homelessness and cost of housing, community safety, education, workforce development and training, childcare, access to health care, and climate change.[5]

Current membership

As of August 2021, there were 1,026,458 registered Democrats in Oregon, compared to 730,113 registered Republicans, and 982,540 registered Non-Affiliated voters.


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.


Party caucuses

The state party recognizes 17 party caucuses formed to address specific political issues in their constituent communities:

Current elected officials

Members of Congress

Democrats control both of Oregon's U.S. Senate seats and 4 out of 6 of Oregon's U.S. House seats.

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 four of the six seats Oregon is apportioned in the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2020 census:

District Member Photo
1st Suzanne Bonamici
3rd Earl Blumenauer
4th Val Hoyle
6th Andrea Salinas

Statewide offices

The Oregon Democratic Party holds all five elected state executive offices.

Legislative Leadership

Oregon State Legislature


District Home Senator Party
3 Ashland Jeff Golden Democratic
4 Eugene Floyd Prozanski Democratic
7 Eugene James Manning Jr. Democratic
8 Corvallis Sara Gelser Democratic
10 Salem Deb Patterson Democratic
13 Wilsonville Aaron Woods Democratic
14 Beaverton Kate Lieber Democratic
15 Hillsboro Janeen Sollman Democratic
17 Portland Elizabeth Steiner Democratic
18 Aloha Wlnsvey Campos Democratic
19 Lake Oswego Rob Wagner Democratic
20 Gladstone Mark Meek Democratic
21 Portland Kathleen Taylor Democratic
22 Lew Frederick Democratic
23 Michael Dembrow Democratic
24 Kayse Jama Democratic
25 Troutdale Chris Gorsek Democratic

House of Representatives[edit]

District Home Representative Party
5 Ashland Pam Marsh Democratic
7 Springfield John Lively Democratic
8 Eugene Paul Holvey Democratic
10 Otis David Gomberg Democratic
13 Eugene Nancy Nathanson Democratic
14 Julie Fahey Democratic
16 Corvallis Dan Rayfield Democratic
19 Salem Tom Andersen Democratic
20 Monmouth Paul Evans Democratic
26 Tigard Ben Bowman Democratic]
26 Wilsonville Courtney Neron Democratic
27 Beaverton Ken Helm Democratic
28 Portland Dacia Grayber Democratic
29 Forest Grove Susan McLain Democratic
30 Hillsboro Nathan Sosa Democratic
33 Portland Maxine Dexter Democratic
34 Beaverton Lisa Reynolds Democratic
35 Farrah Chaichi Democratic
36 Hillsboro Hai Pham Democratic
37 West Linn Jules Walters Democratic
38 Lake Oswego Daniel Nguyen Democratic
39 Happy Valley Janelle Bynum Democratic
40 Gladstone Annessa Hartman Democratic
41 Milwaukie Mark Gamba Democratic
42 Portland Rob Nosse Democratic
43 Tawna Sanchez Democratic
44 Travis Nelson Democratic
45 Thuy Tran Democratic
46 Khanh Pham Democratic
47 Andrea Valderrama Democratic
48 Hoa Nguyen Democratic
49 Troutdale Zach Hudson Democratic
50 Gresham Ricki Ruiz Democratic
53 Bend Emerson Levy Democratic
54 Bend Jason Kropf Democratic


Territorial period

Joseph Lane served as Governor and as a US Senator. He also ran for Vice President in the 1860 election as the running mate of John C. Breckinridge, but was defeated by Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin.

An initial call for a "thorough and permanent" Democratic Party organization in the Territory of Oregon was sounded by editor Asahel Bush in his Oregon Statesman in June 1851.[6] The highly partisan Bush kept up a relentless drumbeat in his paper against Whig officials and party members, characterizing them as promoters of "monopolies, tariffs, and bank charters [which] fertilize the rich man's soil with the sweat of the poor man's brow."[7] Bush's call was heeded on Independence Day, 1851, with the convocation of a territorial convention at which a central committee was chosen and James Nesmith was made chairman.[8]

"The Democracy" of the pre-Civil War period was supported primarily by farmers, and featured a regular cycle of party activities during the agricultural slack time of winter through spring which included local caucuses, Jackson jubilees, an annual Jefferson–Jackson Dinner, county conventions, and Fourth of July bonfires.[9]

The Anti-Democrats of the period, worse organized at the Democrats at the precinct, county, and territorial level, focused upon the issues of temperance and advancing Protestant nativism, marching into elections under three distinct political banners: the People's Party in 1853; the Whig and American party in 1855; and the Republican, Independent, and Maine Law in 1857.[10] Their comparatively superior system of party organization led to Democratic dominance in the pre-statehood period, although factionalism revolving around control over federal appropriations and patronage left the Democratic majority party anything but a united organization.[11]

Early statehood period

The party's first convention post-statehood was held in Salem on April 20, 1859. Bitterly divided over the issue of slavery,[12] the convention nominated Lansing Stout, supported by pro-slavery factions led by Joseph Lane,[13] 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 three Republicans were chosen.[4] Beginning in the 1880s the Democrats became the minority party when immigrants from Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and foreign countries moving over to Oregon chose the Republican Party as their main party.[4]

With the start of the 1880s the Democrats had become the minority, and that stayed that way, for the most part, until the start of World War II. During those years however there were a few blips such as 1890 that had the Democrats back on the political map. The adoption of the direct primary gave the Democrats new forms of institutional democracy which lead the way for political advancement.[4] The people of Oregon had a new way of thinking about politics and the Democrats started to use the reform-minded mentality that existed in some of the populous to overturn the Republican control of state politics.[4]

Democratic reform

Governor Sylvester Pennoyer was famous for his prickly attitudes toward Presidents Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland, due to him viewing them as "too Conservative".

The Democrats first started to make alliances with third parties in the 1890s but then moved on to market themselves as a partisan organization.[4] The governor at the time, Sylvester Pennoyer, gathered a coalition with a start-up party called the Union Party and independent Republicans from Portland.[4] Pennoyer won his re-election bid and this gave Democrats the confidence they were looking for to beat the Republicans, but the Republicans swept the rest of the state with the exception of a couple of seats in the state legislature.[4] Pennoyer warned both parties of a third party rising due to lack of acknowledgment of political problems that faced the nation. He was correct as the People's Party emerged in Omaha. Pennoyer was agitated with the platforms of both parties that he left and joined the Populists.[4] This created a split in the party between people who wanted to follow Pennoyer to the People's Party and the people who wanted to stay as Democrats.

The refusal of the People's Party to join forces with the Democratic Party led to easy elections for Republicans in the years to come. In 1896 factionalism between these parties led the Republicans carrying Oregon in the presidential and congressional elections. State legislature elections resulted in the Populist leading the Democrats in elected members 18–7.[4] The only meaningful victory that the Democrats could look to was that of Sylvester Pennoyer, who returned to the Democratic ticket and won the election for mayor, being supported by the Democrats and Populists together.[4] The only other Democratic success was that the people of Oregon responded to the call to reform as the Democrats took 12 counties from the Republicans in that presidential election.[4]

The Great Depression and the re-emergence of the Democrats

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 Franklin D. Roosevelt years where the Republican registration never dipped below 50% throughout the state.[4] This remained the case until the boom in employment caused by World War II. This resulted in a drastic increase in Oregon population, which benefited the Democratic party. Workers that came in provided a base to rebuild the Democratic Party.[4]

As the Great Depression struck the nation in the 1930s the Oregon Democrats saw this as an opportunity to gain prominence once again. The people of the state reacted very strongly against the Republican leadership that was in power during the economic collapse that spark the depression. Party officials believed that this collapse finally gave the party a concrete issue and they also believed that they would be able to make Oregon a two-party state once again.[4] The state committee organized meetings between 1930 and 1932 to plan precinct reorganization throughout the state, and shortly after the spike in meetings, a "Young Democratic League" was formed with an active membership of 2,500 members and they were scattered throughout all of the counties of Oregon.[4] This also ended the avoidance by candidates of the Democratic label as the public saw the Republicans as responsible for the collapse, so the Democrats put themselves out as the party of new ideas.[4] They viewed the label of Democrat as an advantage, as the national Democratic party saw a rise in popularity. As the Oregon Democrats ran in tandem with Roosevelt in the presidential election, they saw instant results, the Democrats gained 10 seats the state legislature, going from 7 to 17 and gaining majority in a 30-seat legislature, and in the state senate going from 1 seat to 8, giving an even split in the state senate.[4] These were not the biggest successes for Oregon Democrats however, Charles H. Martin won reelection in the Third Congressional District and Walter Pierce won the Second Congressional District for the first time in Oregon history.[4] In the 1930s, there was a drastic increase in voter registration for the Democrats, whose numbers rise from 30 percent of state registered voters to 48%, most of this was because of support for FDR's "New Deal".[4] Roosevelt was solid in Oregon for his four election victories, never once losing the state, but the same could not be said for state Democrats. They were never able to win a senate seat and after the initial Roosevelt election year; the state Democrats did not gain any more congressional seats that were significant.[4]

The fall of the Democrats

US Senator Wayne Morse notably opposed the national leadership of the Democratic Party and was a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War

The rise of the Democrats was short-lived during this period and the fall can be attributed to the gubernatorial election of former congress member, Democrat Charles H. Martin. Martin ran and won the Governorship as a "champion" of the "New Deal" brought to fruition by Roosevelt.[4] After the election it became clear that Martin did not support the President or his "New Deal" and this sparked a war between the Democratic state legislature and Martin. He received most of his troubles from the Democrats and gained support from Republicans.[4] Martin was all but kicked out of the Democratic Party as many of his former supporters stated that they would no longer support him if he ran for governorship again. Despite this Martin declared that he would run again for governor because of promised support from Republicans. Martin lost his reelection bid in the primary to Democrat State Senator Henry Hess. This ended up splitting the party once again and Hess lost the general election for governor. Martin endorsed many Republicans that ran against incumbent Democrats, leading to the loss of majority in both the State House and Senate, plus the loss of the Third Congressional district.[4]

Post World War II rebuilding of the party

After the war, there was no trace of a Democratic Party anywhere in Oregon, so a reorganization effort was started. The biggest triumph in the initial rebuilding was when Monroe Sweetland ran as a candidate for National Committeeman, and then won the seat in the 1948 primaries. Sweetland sought to gain connections to the Harry S. Truman administration and eventually succeeded in his goal.[4] This resulted in the now upstart Democratic presence in Oregon receiving monetary contributions from Democratic figures. This was the one real success in the 1948 election however as the Democrats in the state failed to come up with viable strong candidates for office.[4] Once Sweetland saw this, he decided to launch strong campaigns for Truman in the state, that also was unsuccessful as Dewey carried the state, but not the presidency. They did however elect some Democrats to smaller positions in the state legislature.[4] There was no apparent hope for the Democrats until the following election year 1950, when Democrats saw an increase and surpassing of Democratic registration over the Republicans. The 1950 election was as big a disaster as the 1948 election as the Democrats still won no prominent seats in the state, but in 1952 the Democrats ended up seizing the Attorney General Position from the Republicans, which was seen as a major victory for the Democrats of the state.[4] 1954 was the first time in a long time that Democrats had a sound hold on Oregon Politics, they saw an increase in State Legislature seats, increasing from 11 to 25 and in the Senate increasing from 4 to 6. They also won the first US Senatorial election in 40 years when Richard Neuberger defeated Republican incumbent Guy Cordon, and Edith Green captured Third Congressional District in an open-seat race against future governor Tom McCall.[4] Finally, in 1956 it was clear that the Democrats were back in power when they took 3 of 4 races for US Representative, a reelection of the Attorney General, a gain of control over the State Legislature, and a victory for Governor of Oregon.[4]

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.

2010 elections

In 2010 the Democrats kept the Governorship in a close election decided by the slimmest of margins. Former 2-term governor John Kitzhaber defeated Republican Chris Dudley by a mere 14,910 votes. US Senator Ron Wyden kept his senate seat, handily beating Jim Huffman 57% to 39%. The Democratic Party of Oregon also kept all four of their previously held congressional seats in the U.S House of Representatives[14]

Election results


Oregon Democratic Party presidential election results
Election Presidential Ticket Votes Vote % Electoral votes Result
1860 Stephen A. Douglas/Herschel V. Johnson 4,131 27.99%
0 / 3
1864 George B. McClellan/George H. Pendleton 8,457 46.10%
0 / 3
1868 Horatio Seymour/Francis Preston Blair Jr. 11,125 50.37%
3 / 3
1872 Horace Greeley/Benjamin G. Brown (Liberal Republican) 7,742 38.43%
0 / 3
1876 Samuel J. Tilden/Thomas A. Hendricks 14,157 47.38%
0 / 3
1880 Winfield S. Hancock/William H. English 19,955 48.88%
0 / 3
1884 Grover Cleveland/Thomas A. Hendricks 24,604 46.70%
0 / 3
1888 Grover Cleveland/Allen G. Thurman 26,522 42.88%
0 / 3
1892 Grover Cleveland/Adlai E. Stevenson 14,243 18.15%
0 / 4
1896 William Jennings Bryan/Arthur Sewall 46,739 47.98%
0 / 4
1900 William Jennings Bryan/Adlai E. Stevenson 32,810 39.41%
0 / 4
1904 Alton B. Parker/Henry G. Davis 17,521 19.43%
0 / 4
1908 William Jennings Bryan/John W. Kern 38,049 34.31%
0 / 4
1912 Woodrow Wilson/Thomas R. Marshall 47,064 34.34%
5 / 5
1916 Woodrow Wilson/Thomas R. Marshall 120,087 45.90%
0 / 5
1920 James M. Cox/Franklin D. Roosevelt 80,019 33.55%
0 / 5
1924 John W. Davis/Charles W. Bryan 67,589 24.18%
0 / 5
1928 Al Smith/Joseph T. Robinson 109,223 34.14%
0 / 5
1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt/John N. Garner 213,871 57.99%
5 / 5
1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt/John N. Garner 266,733 64.42%
5 / 5
1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt/Henry A. Wallace 258,415 53.70%
5 / 5
1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt/Harry S. Truman 248,635 51.78%
6 / 6
1948 Harry S. Truman/Alben W. Barkley 243,147 46.40%
0 / 6
1952 Adlai Stevenson/John Sparkman 270,579 38.93%
0 / 6
1956 Adlai Stevenson/Estes Kefauver 329,204 44.72%
0 / 6
1960 John F. Kennedy/Lyndon B. Johnson 367,402 47.32%
0 / 6
1964 Lyndon B. Johnson/Hubert Humphrey 501,017 63.72%
6 / 6
1968 Hubert Humphrey/Edmund Muskie 358,866 43.78%
0 / 6
1972 George McGovern/Sargent Shriver 392,760 42.33%
0 / 6
1976 Jimmy Carter/Walter Mondale 490,407 47.62%
0 / 6
1980 Jimmy Carter/Walter Mondale 456,890 38.67%
0 / 6
1984 Walter Mondale/Geraldine Ferraro 536,479 43.74%
0 / 7
1988 Michael Dukakis/Lloyd Bentsen 616,206 51.28%
7 / 7
1992 Bill Clinton/Al Gore 621,314 42.48%
7 / 7
1996 Bill Clinton/Al Gore 649,641 47.15%
7 / 7
2000 Al Gore/Joe Lieberman 720,342 46.96%
7 / 7
2004 John Kerry/John Edwards 943,163 51.35%
7 / 7
2008 Barack Obama/Joe Biden 1,037,291 56.75%
7 / 7
2012 Barack Obama/Joe Biden 970,488 54.24%
7 / 7
2016 Hillary Clinton/Tim Kaine 1,002,106 50.07%
7 / 7
2020 Joe Biden/Kamala Harris 1,340,383 56.45%
7 / 7


Oregon Democratic Party gubernatorial election results
Election Gubernatorial candidate Votes Vote % Result
1858 John Whiteaker 5,134 54.93% Won Green tickY
1862 John F. Miller 3,450 32.89% Lost Red XN
1866 James K. Kelly 10,039 49.32% Lost Red XN
1870 La Fayette Grover 11,726 51.38% Won Green tickY
1874 La Fayette Grover 9,713 38.23% Won Green tickY
1878 William Wallace Thayer 15,689 47.93% Won Green tickY
1882 Joseph Showalter Smith 20,029 48.25% Lost Red XN
1886 Sylvester Pennoyer 27,901 50.89% Won Green tickY
1890 Sylvester Pennoyer 41,139 53.55% Won Green tickY
1894 William Galloway 17,865 20.51% Lost Red XN
1898 W. R. King 34,452 40.77% Lost Red XN
1902 George Earle Chamberlain 41,857 46.17% Won Green tickY
1906 George Earle Chamberlain 46,002 47.56% Won Green tickY
1910 Oswald West 54,853 46.61% Won Green tickY
1914 C. J. Smith 94,594 38.14% Lost Red XN
1918 Walter M. Pierce 65,440 42.78% Lost Red XN
1922 Walter M. Pierce 133,392 57.26% Won Green tickY
1926 Walter M. Pierce 93,470 41.37% Lost Red XN
1930 Edward F. Bailey 62,434 25.10% Lost Red XN
1934 Charles H. Martin 116,677 38.57% Won Green tickY
1938 Henry L. Hess 158,744 42.57% Lost Red XN
1942 Lew Wallace 62,561 22.13% Lost Red XN
1946 Carl C. Donaugh 106,474 30.94% Lost Red XN
1948 (special) Lew Wallace 226,958 44.53% Lost Red XN
1950 Austin F. Flegel 171,750 33.95% Lost Red XN
1954 Joseph K. Carson 244,170 43.09% Lost Red XN
1956 (special) Robert D. Holmes 369,439 50.52% Won Green tickY
1958 Robert D. Holmes 267,934 44.66% Lost Red XN
1962 Robert Y. Thornton 265,359 41.63% Lost Red XN
1966 Robert W. Straub 305,008 44.67% Lost Red XN
1970 Robert W. Straub 293,892 44.10% Lost Red XN
1974 Robert W. Straub 444,812 57.73% Won Green tickY
1978 Robert W. Straub 409,411 45.10% Lost Red XN
1982 Ted Kulongoski 374,316 35.92% Lost Red XN
1986 Neil Goldschmidt 549,456 51.85% Won Green tickY
1990 Barbara Roberts 508,749 45.7% Won Green tickY
1994 John Kitzhaber 622,083 50.95% Won Green tickY
1998 John Kitzhaber 717,061 64.42% Won Green tickY
2002 Ted Kulongoski 618,004 49.03% Won Green tickY
2006 Ted Kulongoski 699,786 50.73% Won Green tickY
2010 John Kitzhaber 716,525 49.29% Won Green tickY
2014 John Kitzhaber 733,230 49.89% Won Green tickY
2016 (special) Kate Brown 985,027 50.62% Won Green tickY
2018 Kate Brown 934,498 50.05% Won Green tickY
2022 Tina Kotek 917,074 47.0% Won Green tickY

See also


  1. ^ "Voter Registration by County: August 2021". Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  2. ^ "Contact Us Archived 2010-05-03 at the Wayback Machine." Democratic Party of Oregon. Retrieved on May 13, 2010.
  3. ^ "State Party | Multnomah County Democratic Party". Archived from the original on 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad History of the Democratic Party in Oregon, 1900-1956, Burton, Robert E.
  5. ^ "Oregon House Democrats to Prioritize Building a Robust, Equitable Recovery for Oregon" (PDF) (Press release). Oregon House Democrats. 1 February 2022.
  6. ^ Oregon Statesman, June 13, 1851, cited in David Alan Johnson, Founding the Far West: California, Oregon and Nevada, 1840-1890. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992; pg. 53.
  7. ^ Oregon Statesman, June 27, 1851, cited in Johnson, Founding the Far West, pg. 57.
  8. ^ Charles Henry Carey, History of Oregon: Volume 1. Chicago: Pioneer Historical Publishing Co., 1920; pg. 520.
  9. ^ Johnson, Founding the Far West, pp. 57-58.
  10. ^ Johnson, Founding the Far West, pp. 58-59.
  11. ^ Johnson, Founding the Far West, pg. 61.
  12. ^ Carey, History of Oregon: Volume 1, pp. 630–631.
  13. ^ Carey, History of Oregon: Volume 1, pg. 631.
  14. ^ MSNBC

Further reading