The race to lead Portland took shape Monday, with newly filed campaign reports showing the frontrunner, City Commissioner Jim Francesconi, boosting his total contributions above $850,000, five times all his competitors' combined.

Meanwhile, the guy considered his main rival, former Police Chief Tom Potter, has raised less than $45,000, in part thanks to a decision to limit his contributions to $25 each.

But now the ex-chief may have a helping hand to close the gap: an independent pro-Potter campaign that will accept contributions up to $2,500.

Adrian Russell-Falla, who worked on Potter's campaign until last month, says he started the GoPotterGo! political action committee to "even up the score a little" on the "enormous" disparity between the two candidates' campaign cash. As for how Potter feels about it, Russell-Falla says, "I didn't even ask."

The new PAC has a long way to go. Potter has about $8,000 left, while Francesconi, despite spending close to $500,000, still has more than $300,000 in the bank. This large unspent balance suggests Francesconi is hedging his bets in the expectation that there will be a November runoff between him and Potter.

Like Potter, the other 21 mayoral candidates don't have much in the way of cash. James Posey, a small-business owner, has raised more than $6,300, and Phil Busse, managing editor for the Portland Mercury, reported loans and contributions totalling more than $5,800. Jeff Taylor, a mortgage broker, has garnered little attention so far but has vaulted into second place in campaign cash--by loaning himself $74,000.

Meanwhile, both Potter and Francesconi face complaints alleging election-law violations.

The Francesconi campaign has accused Potter, who did not report receiving any contributions above $50, of violating state election law. The Potter campaign has allowed donors to give $25 for each family member; if those sums are above $50 they would have to be reported, according to the state elections office.

Meanwhile, a criminal complaint has been lodged with the state concerning a $2,000 contribution Francesconi received from developer Tom Moyer's assistant, apparently alleging that the money was actually Moyer's (see last week's Murmurs), which his assistant has denied.