Electoral Victories for “Nones” in Oregon

Julie Fahey, Diego Hernandez, and Pam Marsh

The three Oregon State House candidates endorsed by the Freethought Equality Fund (FEF) PAC handily won their Democratic primary elections on Tuesday: Julie Fahey, Diego Hernandez, and Pam Marsh.

Julie Fahey is running in Oregon’s 14th State House District and won her primary with over 60 percent of the vote.  Fahey, who doesn’t identify with any religion, believes “critical thinking and science can best help us understand our world.” Her public policy decisions will be “guided by evidence and a rational approach to decision-making, rather than by dogma or religious beliefs.” Diego Hernandez is seeking election to Oregon’s 47th State House District and won his primary with nearly 70 percent of the vote. Hernandez, who was raised Catholic, is now an agnostic. He is a strong supporter of the separation of church and state and believes that public policy should be “subject to argument, and amenable to reason.” Pam Marsh ran unopposed in the Democratic primary for Oregon’s 5th State House District. She is not affiliated with a religious organization and believes that “one’s religious views are irrelevant to public office.”

By demonstrating that politicians can win elections without professing religious beliefs, this election is very encouraging for the Freethought Equality Fund and the secular community. These candidates will now advance to the general election on November 8, 2016. All three are seeking to fill open seats with the current Democratic incumbents seeking other offices or retiring. Because their districts have strong Democratic majorities and a history of electing Democratic candidates, all three candidates should be successful in the general election.

The Freethought Equality Fund encourages the humanist and atheist community in Oregon to get to know these candidates so that they can help give Oregon’s secular community a voice in the state capital.

In other secular election news this month, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers won his nonpartisan primary election with over 73 percent of the vote. In the general election Chambers will face the candidate who place second in the election, a candidate who obtained less than 18 percent of the vote.  Chambers is the longest-serving state senator in the history of Nebraska (although he did have to take a short break when term-limits were introduced) and is a hero in the secular movement with his attempt to end state-supported chaplain legislative prayers in the Supreme Court case Marsh v. Chambers (1983) and his 2007 legal action—to protest frivolous and inappropriate lawsuits—seeking a permanent injunction against God’s harmful activities. Senator Chambers will receive the American Humanist Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award at its 75th anniversary conference in Chicago next week.

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