Sarah Iannarone Finishes a Distant Third in Portland Mayor's Race

She gets 9.8 percent of the vote in early returns.

Initial returns in the Portland mayor's race show candidate Sarah Iannarone, who shook up the Portland mayor's race with an aggressively progressive campaign, will finish a distant third behind Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler.

Early returns show Iannarone with 9.8 percent of the vote.

Inside Iannarone's election party, the buzzing crowd gathered at Velo Cult Bike Shop and Tavern fell quickly into disheartened quiet, as the news broadcast Wheeler's big lead: 57.8 percent of the vote.

"The reason I entered this race was because there were things we weren't talking about," Iannarone said to the surrounding campaign volunteers, staff and supporters. "Let's make sure we continue to force those conversations."

Heading into Tuesday night, the biggest question hanging over Iannarone was whether she'd manage to move past Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey, who for months seemed likely to secure a second-place finish behind Wheeler.

The other question was whether Iannarone and the other 13 candidates in the mayor's race could garner enough votes to keep Wheeler from winning the primary outright. In Portland, candidates who get more than 50 percent of the vote can avoid a November runoff.

Iannarone's entrance into the race marked her first time running for elected office. She became a wildcard candidate when she joined the race in late January, behind frontrunners Bailey and Wheeler.

Iannarone played up her lack of political experience, pitching herself as a small-businesses owner and community activist. A PhD candidate and program director at Portland State University, Iannarone promoted her background as a urban-planning expert. Her PSU program, First Stop Portland, hosts U.S. and international visitors who want to study sustainable infrastructure.

Her boss at PSU is Nancy Hales, wife of Mayor Charlie Hales. But Iannarone insisted throughout her campaign that Hales had no influence on her choice to run for mayor.

Despite her lack of experience in public office, Iannarone gained the support of some progressive voters who weren't drawn to Wheeler or Bailey, two similar candidates with nearly identical platforms. She made bold promises, such as a citywide rent freeze, and actively supported organized homeless camps in the city. Iannarone preached creating a car-free downtown and said she wanted a city run entirely on renewable energy.

In her four months in the mayoral race, Iannarone raised $40,000, a fraction of the funds collected by Wheeler and Bailey. (She fell far short of her pledge to raise $100,000.)

"Drink a lot and tip your bartender," Iannarone encouraged the crowd on Tuesday night. Supporters donned masks of the three leading candidates and played a round of Twister. The Wheeler-wearing masked competitor won.

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