Mayoral candidate Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-Portland) took an unusual step on Monday—he amended his campaign committee filings with the Secretary of State's elections division to reflect that his staff will now shift some of their time and energy to helping support the campaign for Portland Public Schools $482 million capital bond measure.
Smith is also giving $5,000 of his scarce campaign cash to the bond measure. "We're hoping other folks can match that," says Smith's campaign manager, Henry Kraemer. (Prior to that gift, Smith had $142,000 on hand; his opponent, former City Commissioner Charlie Hales, who last week announced he will be accepting union contributions above his self-imposed $600 contribution cap, has $121,000 on hand).
Election laws require that political action committees disclose all the candidates and issues on whose behalf they are expending resources. Until Monday, Smith's campaign was working solely to get him elected.
But Smith's canvassers will now urge voters to support the bond when they knock on doors, in addition to encouraging a vote for Smith.
"They are telling voters the most important thing for Jefferson right now is to vote for the bond," Kraemer says.
In a Facebook post Tuesday morning, Smith acknowledged the change in emphasis:
That shift, coming 15 days before ballots will be counted, could be seen a tacit acknowledgement that Smith no longer has much of a chance to defeat his rival in the mayoral race, former City Commissioner Charlie Hales, and that he's turning attention to repairing his reputation.
"Volunteers visited over 3,250 households last weekend building community support for our schools. Join us on Saturday to help get the vote out for what matters. Because this race is not about any one candidate, it's about what we all can do. Together.