It's early days in the 2014 race for Multnomah County chair, but Deborah Kafoury landed a solid hit to her opponent Jim Francesconi today.
Kafoury announced endorsements from Gov. John Kitzhaber, former Gov. Barbara Roberts, and four of the five current members of the county commission: Loretta Smith; Judy Shiprack, interim chairwoman Marissa Madrigal and Liesl Wendt, the interim commissioner who replaced Kafoury when she resigned to run for the seat former Chairman Jeff Cogen vacated in September.
Endorsements don't necessarily mean a lot, but two aspects of Kafoury's announcement are unusual.
First, Kitzhaber does not often get involved in contested races where two credible Democrats are running against each other.
Francesconi, who served as a Portland city commissioner from 1997 to 2005, and Kafoury, a former state representative and county commissioner, both bring long political resumes to the race.
Although the race is non-partisan, a sitting Democratic governor who is highly likely to get re-elected might be expected to sit out such a race because he's going to have to work with the winner. (UPDATE, 4:40 pm: An astute reader notes Kitzhaber will have to work with Francesconi no matter the result, since Francesconi serves on the Oregon State Board of Higher Education.)
The endorsements from Smith and Shiprack are unusual for the same reason.
Although Madrigal and Wendt are not running to retain the seats to which they were appointed (Madrigal stepped in for Cogen, who resigned in September after an affair with a county employee) the incumbent county commissioners will serve with the eventual winner. If that's Francesconi, their tenures will be difficult.
The only commissioner not to back Kafoury today? Diane McKeel, who represents most of east county.