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April 14th, 2004 12:00 am Nick Budnick | News Stories

As the Dough Flows

the dough
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.

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