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 that they desire moderation and cooperation among elected officials, there's no passion or ready-built constituencies for centrist causes. Without the emotional fuel of the extreme right or left, candidates and measures find little traction in the middle ground.

The open-primary measure's failure to attract the required number of signatures and the demise of the Westlund candidacy are a strong indication that hyper-partisanship will remain in Oregon for the foreseeable future.

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