Sanders brings campaign to Portland Sunday evening
UPDATE: Rally moved to larger Moda Center
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is coming to Portland on Sunday even though it is not yet clear whether he can legally qualify to appear on next year's Oregon Democratic Party primary election ballot.
Sanders is scheduled at a 7 p.m. Aug. 9, campaign rally at Moda Center a change from the smaller Veterans Memorial Coliseum announced by his campaign Thursday.
Doors open at 6 p.m., with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets are not required, but the Sanders campaign asked that people RSVP at the website, berniesanders.com/press-release/sanders-to-visit-washington-oregon/.
Sanders, an independent U.S. Senator from Vermont, is not a registered Democrat. He is registered independent, and that could be a problems for him in Oregon.
According to the Oregon secretary of state's office, one state election law says a candidate seeking a party's nomination must be a registered member of that party at least 180 days before filing for office. But a different law gives the secretary of state "sole discretion" to determine which candidates appear on presidential election ballots.
Oregon's Department of Justice has not yet replied to the secretary of state's request for direction to resolve the Sanders issue.
"This question is still actively under review, and we appreciate that a thorough and accurate review will take time. We will have an answer soon," said Laura Terrill, special assistant to Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins.
Michael Briggs, the communications director for Sanders' national campaign, said party registration shouldn't be an issue in Oregon or any other state. Briggs says Vermont has an open primary election system that does not allow party registration. Despite that, Sanders has historically caucused with the Democrats in the Senate, who appointed him lead the Veterans Affairs Committee in the past.
And, Briggs notes, Sanders listed his party affilation as "Democratic" on his Federal Elections Commission filing.
"We are confident Bernie can run as a Democrat," Briggs said.
Democratic National Committee rules do not actually say presidential candidates must belong to the party. Instead, the rules say candidates must have a history of supporting Democratic positions. Sanders has voted with Democrats in Congress on most issues.
Still, until the Oregon Department of Justice issues an opinion, Sanders supporters should wonder whether they will be able to vote for their candidate during the 2016 Democratic Party primary.