The initial returns for Measure 26-108, Portland’s test of public support to continue public campaign financing, suggest the city’s five-year experiment with giving tax dollars to candidates for mayor, city commissioner and auditor is likely to end.
But both opponents and supporters of the measure say tonight that it’s too early to declare victory or defeat.
Just after 8 pm the first results showed 53 percent of voters whose ballots had been counted favored dumping the program that brought Portlanders Commissioner Amanda Fritz. The first-term City Hall occupant (pictured above) has said she wouldn’t have run without public campaign financing.
The latest results at 10 pm show the race has tightened, but they still put the “No” side in the winning position—with 52 percent.
As she was leaving County Commissioner-elect Loretta Smith’s victory party on the 23rd floor of the Portland Hilton Hotel tonight around 10 pm, Fritz said she didn’t know how the race would end. But she said she sensed voters were “cranky,” especially when it comes to money matters like public campaign financing. (In five years, the Portland experiment has cost taxpayers almost $2 million.)
Jon Coney, spokesman for Portlanders Against Taxpayer Funded Political Campaigns, agreed with Fritz that the race could still swing either way.
Fund-raising in this campaign wasn’t as close as the election results so far. Supporters of publicly funded political campaigns outspent opponents more than 5 to 1 with $350,000 compared with $66,000 for the “No” side.