Perhaps because it's not a presidential election, more is at stake this November. Currently, the Democrats control the US Senate, but these elections may tip that balance. A Republican-controlled Senate would most likely expedite President Bush's agenda--major tax cuts for corporations, a war in Iraq, conservative anti-abortion judicial appointments.

This Friday ballots are mailed to Oregon voters. While most of our readers may wait until the last minute, we are worried that some Type-A personalities may select candidates before we've had a chance to whisper in their ears. This is a premature election guide to three of the most critical candidate races this November.

Currently, incumbent Sen. Smith holds a decisive lead over his challenger, former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury--53 percent to 30 percent of voters favor Smith over Bradbury. Understandably, Bradbury's campaign team is scrambling for a last-minute Hail Mary.

"He has taken several months and a few million to re-invent himself," asserts Bill Bradbury's campaign manager, Kim Baldwin, about challenger Gordon Smith. "And he has done so with very little accountability."

With a $5 million budget, Smith has saturated the airwaves with television ads that portray Smith as an independent, moderate, just-your-next-door-neighbor type. Yet both as a state senator and, more recently, in the US Senate, Smith has towed a staunchly conservative line. For example, Sen. Smith pledged his support for a war resolution. In contrast, last week at a public address at PSU, Bradbury spoke against the resolution. Another crucial difference between the candidates is that Smith is anti-abortion. Bradbury is pro-choice.

Although it may be a lost cause, VOTE BRADBURY!

Closer to home, what had seemed like a runaway victory for governor has tightened up. Former Supreme Court Justice Ted Kulongoski's devotion to tax increases is dragging his campaign down like an anchor. With a current billion-dollar shortfall in the state budget, Kulongoski has correctly assessed that, like a car without gas, the state will sputter to a halt. Public transportation, schools, health care--all atrophied already--will wither further. It may pinch, but Oregon needs the money badly. VOTE KULONGOSKI!

Finally, although it may seem like a completely wonky race: Metro President for Multnomah County. In truth, you may feel the Metro president's presence more in your daily life than any other elected official. Most urban planning issues are determined by the county. If for no other reason than his desire to contain sprawl, and his opponent's way-too-pro-business stance, vote DAVID BRAGDON!