Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Baker County Republicans had a great chance Wednesday to talk with five people who will be seeking their vote in the May primary, and it was heartening to see a meeting room at the Sunridge Inn filled.

The county's Republican Party put together the forum that brought to Baker City the five candidates who want to replace Democrat Jeff Merkley as U.S. senator. Although only registered Republicans will get to decide which of the five will challenge Merkley in the general election - Jason Conger, Tim Crawley, Mark Callahan, Monica Wehby and Jo Rae Perkins - the event was a valuable chance for all residents to hear from the group, one of whom might be representing us at the Capitol a year from now.

We've yet to interview the candidates so we're not prepared to recommend voters choose one of the quintet over Merkley.

But having read their platforms we're pretty sure that one of the five - perhaps, indeed, any of the five - would bring to Washington, D.C., a political philosophy that hews closer to Baker County's generally conservative positions than does Merkley's.

To beat the incumbent, though, the Republican nominee will have to deal with a much tougher task than impressing a GOP-friendly audience in Baker County.

Put simply, a Republican can't win a statewide office without making at least a decent showing in Multnomah County, where voters are more automatic in their support for Democrats than Baker County is in endorsing Republicans.

We wish the five candidates luck in that endeavor.