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Get Oregon off the sidelines

It is truly a shame that Oregon voters didn't have a chance to take part in the excitement of the Super Tuesday presidential primary this week.

State legislators should take a vow now that things will be different in 2012. Oregonians have been in a state of irrelevance for too long when it comes to presidential politics. And on Tuesday, all they could do was observe as voters in 24 other states enthusiastically registered their preferences in the Democratic or Republican contests for president.

Oregon could have been a part of that process - or at least moved its primary to a date closer to Super Tuesday. But the 2007 Legislature, for understandable reasons at the time, opted not to change when the primary would be held.

In addition to worrying about the relatively minor cost of holding a presidential primary separate from the state's regular May primary, legislators were concerned that the two national parties might strip Oregon of delegates if it joined in on Super Tuesday.

Legislators, however, still had the option of shifting the primary to a later date in February - in which case Oregonians would be voting now, still securely in the thick of the presidential primary battle. As it is, however, Oregon won't weigh in until May 20. And by then the choices among candidates will be limited, if they exist at all.

Oregon cannot recapture the opportunity for a guaranteed role in what has turned out to be the most interesting primary season in recent history. Nevertheless, legislators should make sure this state isn't stuck in exactly the same place four years from now: presidential primary irrelevance.