Ron Saxton, Republican candidate for governor, is a man pulled in a couple of dstinct directions. His main appeal is as the guy who's centrist enough to win over voters in the general election. But to get to the general election, he has to win a primary election where most of the voters are conservative.
That makes for a question ticklish in the extreme: How "moderate" - or "conservative" - is Ron Saxton?
All this should be prefaced with our usual disclaimer: Such labels as "conservative," "moderate" and "liberal" have long since passed any point of real meaning, especially when the most "conservative" politicians in our nation's capital qualify as the most radical major politicians of the last couple of generations. The terms have more to do with branding and with group self-identification, and there they have real political impact and significance.
In running against two candidates commonly defined as "more conservative" - Kevin Mannix and Jason Atkinson - Saxton has been shorthanded as the moderate in the race. He hasn't really seemed to push against that definition, maybe because of the general election advantages it could confer.
But he has gotten support from a number of Oregonians who define themselves as very conservative indeed, and that may - with less than four months remaining till primary election deadline - start to send some ripples, and shivers, around the state. (more…)