Thursday, April 27, 2006

Oregon: Independent gov candidate Ben Westlund threatens status quo

Ben Westlund

BY NIGEL JAQUISS njaquiss at wweek.com

Willamette Week OnlineApr. 26, 2006 ...But the threat Westlund represents to the status quo extends beyond the governor's race. His candidacy is an expression of the frustration Oregonians feel with politics. Last week's carefully choreographed legislative special session notwithstanding, an increasing number of voters feel the system is broken.
Two parties bludgeon each other endlessly for scant benefit. Polls show that most voters believe Oregon is headed in the wrong direction; reams of data show our tax system, schools and healthcare are inferior.
Westlund, who hopscotches from one side of the aisle to the other, putting issues before politics, says he's the answer.
Maybe he's right. Maybe we don't need Republicans—or Democrats—in this state anymore.
There's one simple reason Bernard John Westlund II, 56, could be the most dangerous name on the November ballot: Incumbent Ted Kulongoski ranks 48th among his peers nationally in popularity, with a 33 percent approval rating, according to mid-April numbers from SurveyUSA. ....
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In another story:
A record low turnout?

A Register-Guard Editorial

Wednesday, April 26, 2006...What's more, increasing numbers of Oregon voters are opting out of participation in partisan primaries. To cast a primary ballot for Republican or Democratic candidates, voters must be registered as members of that party. As of January, 22 percent of Oregon voters were not registered as members of any political party. Twelve years ago, the percentage was 16 percent.
Non-affiliated or independent voters may cast ballots in nonpartisan races and on ballot measures. But party members are about twice as likely to vote in a primary election as independents. As the ranks of independents swell, primary turnouts can be expected to sag. ...
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Republicans hold a strong registration advantage -- 44 percent to 32 percent -- over Democrats. Independent voters make up 20 percent of the district and the remaining 4 percent belong to minor parties.

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