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Oregon: It’s More Conservative Than You Think

The Beltway GOP is convinced that no conservative can win a federal race in Oregon. Yeah, we have heard it all before: we are possibly the most liberal state in the Union. We have the unfortunate “fame” as the only state in the nation without a single restriction on abortion. That is right: you don’t even have to be a licensed medical doctor to perform abortions. We were the first state to vote down parental notification for abortion and the first state to pass physician-assisted suicide. We are a veritable ghost town in the eyes of the nation’s conservatives. “Why don’t you move?” is the standby question I have heard time and time again.

One reason I don’t move is because Oregon is more conservative than you think. Outside our major metro areas (can Portland and Seattle just get together and create their own state already?), Oregonians are actually very conservative. This was highlighted recently when Oregon Right to Life, Oregon Family Council and several other social conservative groups got together and put on a rally in 10 days. It was a stand against Dorchester (an unofficial Republican event that happens yearly) who was “coming out” in favor of same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Over 750 people attended the “freedom rally,” with the RSVP site shut down the day before and standing room only at the event.

It was also highlighted when a group of Oregon college students, leaders in their campus pro-life groups, got together to spend their Saturday protesting the fundraising events of abortion rights supporter Dr. Monica Wehby. She is running in the US Senate Republican primary race against pro-life Rep. Jason Conger (R-Bend). The Beltway GOP thinks that Conger doesn’t have a chance at winning against Senator Merkley in the general election so they have all but shut him out nationally. (40 percent of Wehby’s funding has come from out-of-state donors, including contributions from Senators Susan Collins, Saxby Chambliss, and Richard Burr. Sen. Coburn actually appeared at all the aforementioned events.) But ask Oregonians and you will hear a different story: “She’s a pro-choice Republican candidate for Senate and we don’t want any pro-choice candidates elected,” said Connor York, president of Oregon State University Students for Life.

The Wehby/Conger primary is just one of the telltale signs that Oregon is more conservative than you might think. Our abortion rate has been dropping steadily since the 1990s. In last year’s legislative session, five pro-abortion bills were introduced, and all five were defeated. According to Gallup, only 27.9% of Oregonians describe themselves as “liberal” while 33.6% describe themselves as “conservative.” (Everyone else falls in the “moderate” range, of which, we will admit, there are a lot of in Oregon.) Also, StandUpGirl.com, a pro-life site that is in Google’s top ten sites when you search “abortion” and which reached one million viewers in the first two months of 2014, was started here and still calls Oregon home base.

The other reason I don’t move is that, yes, Oregon is probably more liberal than most states in the nation, but it is also surprisingly fertile ground for growing the next generation of conservative revolutionaries. You can’t be a fair-weather conservative in Oregon. You have to take a stand and risk your reputation to make progress. There are many such brave conservatives in possibly the most liberal state in the nation. And we are turning things around. Just you wait and see, Beltway GOP and naysayers, a conservative can win in Oregon. Abortion restrictions can be passed. Conservative Oregonians can outvote Portlanders.

So, everyone else in America, you can stop calling us “the state with the most liberals in the nation.” Start calling us “the state with the most determined conservatives in the nation.”


Liberty Pike

Liberty Pike is Oregon Right to Life's director of communications. A graduate of Eastern Oregon University, Liberty has been a speaker for ORTL for five years. She and her husband have a young daughter, and motherhood has further fueled her desire to protect the preborn and help women see their children as gifts, not crises.

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