November 6th, 2012 8:00 pm | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: City Hall, PDX Votes, Politics, PDX News

Hales, With a Crushing Vote, Is Portland's Next Mayor

chales-portraitMAYOR-ELECT HALES

A race for Portland mayor that once looked like it could be a closely fought competition turned out to be a blowout.

Former City Commissioner Charlie Hales successfully completed his political comeback Tuesday by winning the job of mayor, crushing his fall opponent, Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland).

In early returns, Hales leads Smith 62 percent to 30 percent. And 8 percent cast write-in votes.

Hales now must steady a City Hall reeling from budget setbacks and a U.S. Department of Justice report that found a pattern of brutality by Portland police against the mentally ill.

The police union played a strange role in the mayor's race: Along with the firefighters' union, the Portland Police Association backed Smith until WW reported that he was charged with misdemeanor assault in 1993 for punching a woman.

The mayor's race appeared deadlocked throughout the summer—and may have even been breaking in Smith's favor after he and Hales dispatched businesswoman Eileen Brady in the primary.

Smith portrayed himself as the progressive candidate and the only voice for East Portland, which has emerged as a growing force in city voting.

But a series of revelations devastated Smith's campaign.

Voters learned he was kicked out of an intramural basketball league last year for punching another player, that his driver's license had been suspended seven times, and that he recently visited the home of the woman he was charged with assaulting in 1993.

Hales' image has also been tarnished. He lied about living in Washington state while voting in Oregon (and avoiding Oregon taxes), and he recently broke a promise to limit campaign contributions to $600. 

But Hales' problems didn't catch the public attention as did Smith's, and his steady, incremental and often bland campaign proved a safe course.

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