Governing is a bitch.

And that's likely to be doubly true for anyone elected this November.

Nationally, the economy is collapsing faster than Amy Winehouse's nose, dragged down by the endless Iraq war and Wall Street's transformation from Masters of the Universe to Raiders of the Federal Treasury.

The economic fallout will land hard on our state, county and city, all of which must figure out how to do more with less.

Since governing is going to be so tough, picking the right candidates is particularly vital.

Aren't you glad you have us to help?

We've spent much of the past several weeks interviewing candidates, researching their backgrounds and digging into the dozen statewide—and four local—measures on the ballot.

Beyond the presidential race, the Oregon ballot is highlighted by the most serious challenge in this state to an incumbent U.S. senator since 1992—and the fact that Bill Sizemore and Kevin Mannix have again dominated the initiative process, responsible between them for two-thirds of the 12 statewide measures.

When it came to making our picks, we looked for people who can get things done, who show signs of good judgment and have something other than a reflexive partisan response to tough questions. (And, frankly, we were disappointed so many of the candidates for the Legislature seemed bereft of either big ideas or a grasp of the market meltdown's magnitude.)

When it came to ballot initiatives or money measures, our questions were just as basic. Is there a problem? And does this measure stand a good chance of fixing it?

Believe it or not, the process was a gas. For those who want to participate vicariously, you can now watch videos of our interviews at the end of most of our endorsements, thanks to the good folks at Portland Community Media.

The election is Nov. 4. You should be getting your ballots in the next few days. When you do, here's who and what we think you should support. Governing may be a bitch, but voting doesn't have to be.