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End name-calling, respect the voters

Labor Day - the campaign season's traditional starting point - is two weeks away, yet political candidates already are attempting to define their opponents in unflattering ways.

What they ought to define instead are their aspirations for Oregon and their specific priorities for moving this state forward.

In the governor's race, now minus centrist candidate Ben Westlund, the Democrat and Republican are busy in these late-summer days creating caricatures of each other that they hope will stay in voters' minds all the way up to the Nov. 7 election.

Thus, we are told via Republican Ron Saxton's campaign that Gov. Ted Kulongoski is a captive of labor unions. And the Democratic incumbent's response has been to say that Saxton represents large corporate interests and big oil companies.

Oregon and its voters deserve better. Saxton, Kulongoski and other candidates must describe the priorities most important to Oregonians and say exactly how they would lead on those very issues. In demeaning an opponent, they only diminish themselves - and underestimate the citizens they seek to lead.