In Oregon, Three Non-Religious Candidates Won Their Primaries for the State House

Bernie Sanders‘ victory in the Oregon primary last night may have dominated the headlines out of that state, but there were also a handful of down-ballot races featuring openly non-religious candidates that you may have missed. And all of them were victorious in their bids for the Oregon State House.

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The candidates received endorsements from the Freethought Equality Fund last month after coming out publicly as non-religious. Here’s a rundown of who they are and how they did:

Julie Fahey (Oregon State House — District 14)

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Julie Fahey is seeking election to Oregon’s 14th State House District. 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.” She is passionate about protecting the environment, expanding economic opportunities, improving education, defending a woman’s right to choose, and will be a “tireless voice against discrimination in all its forms.” Fahey has spent the last 15 years in the private sector helping businesses and nonprofits pay and treat their employees fairly to create positive work environments. This is an open seat with the current incumbent running for Oregon’s Secretary of State.

The result?

She won her primary — and just based on the voter turnout, she may have a good shot at beating her GOP opponent in November:

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You can donate to her campaign right here.

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Diego Hernandez (Oregon State House — District 47)

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Diego Hernandez is seeking election to Oregon’s 47th State House District. 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.” He is dedicated to supporting education, community safety, and an economy that supports working families and small businesses. He received a BA in Political Science and Ethnic Studies at the University of Oregon and a Masters in Social Work at Portland State University. He has worked as a middle and high school teacher and was elected to the school board. Hernandez is currently the Co-Executive Director of Momentum Alliance, a nonprofit that develops young civic leaders. This is an open seat with the incumbent running for another elective office.

The result?

He won his primary. (While the AP hadn’t called his race as of this writing, another source has.) His Independent opponent ran unopposed, and the two will face off in November:

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You can donate to his campaign right here.

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Pam Marsh (Oregon State House — District 5)

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Pam Marsh is seeking election to 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.” Marsh has been an Ashland City Council member since 2012, and she is a small business owner and manager of the Ashland Emergency Food Bank. She earned a BA in Political Science from Southern Oregon University. Marsh is committed to strengthening public education and health care delivery systems, and increasing affordable housing and the minimum wage. She will promote legislation to address climate change by fostering an energy economy based on renewable resources and emerging technologies. The current Democratic incumbent is retiring and Marsh is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The result?

She was unopposed in the race, so she automatically won her primary. Her GOP opponent had the same path to victory, and they’ll face off in November:

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You can donate to her campaign right here.

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Obviously, being non-religious doesn’t automatically mean you’re a great candidate, but these three all seem to be strong progressives deserving of your vote regardless of their religious views.

(Large portions of this article were published earlier)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.