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Our primary system puts Oregon at disadvantage

Proposal to rotate the nation's primaries is still valid; meanwhile, Bonamici is winner

As we woke up Wednesday to the results of Tuesday's Florida primary, no one could complain that the Republican presidential sweepstakes is dull.

The field of conservative candidates has gotten smaller with Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, John Huntsman and Rick Perry calling it quits.

Iowa picked Rick Santorum (but forgot to tell him). New Hampshire restored Mitt Romney to frontrunner status before South Carolina put Newt Gingrich back in the hunt with an upset victory. Then Tuesday evening, Romney jumped back into the top spot by claiming the winner-take-all Florida primary - significant because it is the biggest state so far to vote.

Here in the Upper Left Coast we can only watch.

Anyone who pays attention in Oregon will surely point out how the Beaver state - by virtue of the timing of its May primary election - all but surrenders any voice in the selection of nominees from either major political party.

Odds are that by the time our primary rolls around, the Republican field will be down to one or two candidates and Oregon will be nothing more than an afterthought.

Back in February 1999, the National Association of Secretaries of State proposed a system of rotating regional primaries to be held in March, April, May and even June.

The idea was simple: Give all voters equal opportunity - on a rotating basis - to participate in the selection process.

It was an idea that the secretaries of state reaffirmed in 2004, 2008 and again for the 2012 presidential election.

It's discouraging that this proposal has languished, particularly since the stakes are so high in the current race for the White House.

The war in Iraq has all but ended, but Oregonians continue to fight and die in Afghanistan; global economies tied to Oregon are failing; the economy shows signs of recovery, but job growth remains stagnant.

Given the magnitude of these issues, Oregonians deserve a louder voice in the selection of nominees for either party.

Speaking of politics, Beaverton Democrat Suzanne Bonamici is headed to Congress after taking a commanding lead in Oregon's 1st Congressional District special election Tuesday.

About 34 percent of the district's registered voters cast ballots, according to the Oregon Secretary of State's office.

She defeated Republican Rob Cornilles of Tualatin, Libertarian James Foster and Progressive Party candidate Steven Reynolds.

The special election determined who would succeed former U.S. Rep. David Wu, who resigned from his post in July 2011 in the wake of allegations that he had improper sexual conduct with the 18-year-old daughter of a family friend.

Tuesday night's winner will serve the remainder of Wu's term and must run for re-election in November. Bonamici, who served in the Oregon Senate from May 2008 to November 2011, and prior to that in the Oregon House, told supporters that the election was about 'giving the people of Northwest Oregon effective representation, and allowing them to choose.'

'Voters are eager to have someone represent them who cares deeply about middle-class families struggling to make ends meet, (who are) concerned about the cost of and access to heath care and someone to stand up to powerful interests, for those who deserve to have their voices heard,' Bonamici said during her victory speech.

Despite Bonamici's words, this race offered nothing to feel good about as both candidates - and their respective parties - piled on negative ad after negative ad that undoubtedly left voters shaking their collective heads in dismay. Perhaps that helps explain why only 34 percent bothered to vote.

Going forward, it's clear that nasty politics has permeated the culture in America (check out the advertising in the various Republican primaries so far for validation of that point). We hate to see this and we call on all candidates and all parties to right the ship and let us vote on merits and issues, not innuendoes and name-calling.




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