April 22, 2002 11:00 pm

Who will be Oregon's next governor? Does anybody care?

Oregon's first wide-open gubernatorial race in years isn't sparking a lot of interest from voters. As David Sarasohn wrote in The Sunday Oregonian, "This time, both parties have choices. What they don't have are excited voters.''

NOT EVEN on the west side of the state where the candidates are spending most of their time do voters seem to be getting excited. On the east side, we may not even be sure who is running. Few lawn signs have sprouted although we're just a week away from receiving our primary ballots in the mail.

The six leading candidates — three Republicans and three Democrats — are spending their time doing west-side joint appearances, even to the point that they've joked they can give each other's speeches. They've largely ignored the rest of the state.

Republicans Jack Roberts and Ron Saxton both swung through the area last fall. Democrat Bev Stein visited the area before and will be in La Grande Friday. But by and large all six of the leading candidates aren't doing much stumping — at least not in Northeastern Oregon. And the funny thing is, it appears to be a wide open race because not one of the candidates has seemed to catch on with voters. Not yet, anyway.

Some of the candidates have started running ads on Portland TV. We should prepare ourselves for the coming blitz in the next few days. Judging from the ads that have appeared so far, none of them are demonstrating a vision for the state or announcing ideas on how they'd tackle what ails Oregon. They talk about balanced budgets and no taxes and the importance of education, but none offer any solutions.

PERHAPS THE CLOSEST we'll get to any insight on this strange political year will come Thursday when the Blue Mountain Forum presents political analysts and pollsters Tim Hibbitts and Bob Moore of Portland. The two men cover both sides of the political spectrum, and together they will present a program titled "Oregon Politics: Does Anyone Really Care?" The free forum will take place at 7 p.m. in the Misener Conference Room at the county administrative building, 1001 FourthSt.

The candidates might not want to come and visit us, but we'll do our best to get some insight into what they are all about — from people who actually have their fingers on the pulse of what Oregonians are thinking.


Elgin High School's Future Business Leaders Association has done what few prep teams of any kind have been able to do. The Elgin FBLA team has won seven straight Class 2A state titles. That string says something about Elgin's FBLA program — the students, the coach, the school.

Congratulations, Elgin FBLA! You are building for the future.