The Portland police and fire unions have pulled their endorsements of Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland) in the wake of WW's revelations that the mayoral candidate faced in a 1993 misdemeanor assault charge after he struck a woman at a college party.But neither union is switching its support to Smith's opponent, Charlie Hales.
"Today, the Portland Police Association and Portland Fire Fighters Association have withdrawn our endorsements of Portland Mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith," police union spokesman Daryl Turner said in a press release this afternoon. "Our members count on us to make recommendations and, at this point in the campaign, we cannot make a strong recommendation for either candidate."
The unions are key endorsements for Smith—not only because of their contributions, but because they provide significant ground support, with rank-and-file members knocking on doors.
The endorsement yank comes hours after Smith debuted his first television ad, the centerpiece of a $200,000 TV buy made Oct. 1. The ad heralds Smith's police and fire support:
UPDATE, 3:08 pm: Smith campaign manager Henry Kraemer has released a statement.
"Our commitment to necessary support and improvement to smart public safety remains unwavering," it reads. "We deeply value the work our front-line city workers do and are grateful for the support they've given us. We're obviously disappointed to lose any support, but our strong base of grassroots support will remain our focus during the next 27 days. And we hope the those days will be spent talking about the future of the city."
Kraemer tells WW the campaign, which produces its ads in-house, is "adjusting our TV ads as quickly as we can." He says the campaign will pull its ads "until we can replace them."
UPDATE, 3:35 pm: The Portland Association of Teachers tells WW that it will continue to endorse Smith.
"We have not had any conversations about not sticking with Smith," teachers union president Gwen Sullivan says. "We not have thought that the Smith campaign has handled everything the right way, but we know Jefferson has been a strong advocate for schools. And that part hasn't wavered."
UPDATE, 4:42 pm: Charlie Hales has issued a statement about the endorsement pull.
"I think what they have done speaks for itself," Hales says. "The Police and Fire Associations have seen what we’ve all seen over the past few weeks and were disturbed enough about it to take some action."
Hales has a famously combative relationship with the firefighters. WW asked him why he didn't get the police or fire endorsements even after the unions were so disturbed. Hales added:
"If I am elected Mayor, I look forward to working with the police bureau. Together I think we can promote improvements for law enforcement and our community including issues like increasing community policing to more neighborhoods and improvement in handling calls involving persons with mental illness."