Centrists truly are stuck in the middle


The withdrawal of independent candidate Ben Westlund from the governor's race and the failure of the open-primary initiative to make the fall ballot illustrate that the middle is no longer the place to be in Oregon politics.

While voters profess to desire moderation and cooperation among elected officials, there's no passion or ready-built constituencies for centrist causes - just ask Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. Without the emotional fuel of the extreme right or left, candidates and measures find little traction in the middle ground.

The open-primary measure, for example, would have reformed Oregon's archaic system of selecting candidates and allowed people to cross party lines. It had inherent appeal for those who desire less partisanship and more cooperation.

Its failure to attract the required number of signatures and the demise of the Westlund candidacy are strong indications that hyper-partisanship will rule in Oregon for the foreseeable future.