Breaking News!

Tuesday, Feb 14, 3:15 pm

State Senator Ben Westlund, from Bend, announced his candidacy for Oregon governor today. The senator, known for pushing unusually progressive policies, dropped his Republican party affiliation on February 14, and registered as an independent. He has until August 29 to gather 18,364 valid signatures to earn a place on the ballot.

"A few letters after our name do not represent us as individuals, nor do they represent Oregon well," Westlund wrote on his site, "We must bridge these partisan divisions that're keeping us from solving our problems. That's why I am running for governor as an independent."

Elected to the state House of Representatives as a Republican in 1996, Westlund was appointed to the Oregon State Senate in 2003. He's earned an independent reputation, by doing things like throwing his weight behind last year's SB1000—a civil union and anti-discrimination bill—and pushing for progressive policies, like this year's Apollo Project state ballot measure (an effort to attract renewable energy companies to Oregon). In January, at the Bus Project's Rebooting Democracy retreat near Mt. Hood, Westlund joked that he was the only Republican in the room, claiming he was there to stump for a "Policy-Palooza of Progressive Initiatives," including one measure that would provide healthcare for all of Oregon's uninsured children, and another that would make access to basic healthcare a constitutional right.

Check out Thursday's Portland Mercury—and—for more on this breaking story.