Nathan Vasquez Builds a Big Fundraising Lead in District Attorney Race

Although incumbent Mike Schmidt has attracted more donors, Vasquez has raised more than double the dollars.

Nathan Vasquez (Courtesy of Nathan Vasquez)

Nathan Vasquez is handily outraising incumbent Mike Schmidt in the race for Multnomah County district attorney.

Although Schmidt has attracted more donors, Vasquez has raised more than double the dollars—thanks to big checks from local business interests. Notably, Vasquez is raking in cash from deep-pocketed property investors who are interested in the condition of Multnomah County but in many cases do not live here.

Vasquez is campaigning to unseat Schmidt next May by arguing that the DA’s progressive policies have led to increased crime and left the city less safe. Schmidt says he’s been a steady hand who’s navigated the office through a period of unprecedented crisis.

So far, Vasquez’s message has resonated well with Portland’s business elite. He landed big contributions early on from sources like Nike co-founder Phil Knight, Columbia Sportswear’s Tim Boyle, and Schnitzer Properties. And a flurry of recent $5,000 contributions has further accelerated Vasquez’s lead, including checks from lower-profile real estate developers such as Greg Specht and Kenneth Randall. Vasquez has “donors large and small, and from every corner of Multnomah County,” his campaign spokeswoman responds.

Vasquez has previously told WW that he hopes to raise, in total, $1 million. (The county’s campaign finance limits don’t apply to the race for district attorney, who is technically a state employee. Oregon is one of only a few states without a cap.)

He will also likely benefit from independent spending. The advocacy group People for Portland has attempted to associate Schmidt’s face with downtown blight via a series of billboards, the most recent of which appeared on West Burnside Street near Zupan’s last month.

By contrast, Schmidt’s campaign has not until recently made fundraising a priority. Rather than amassing a campaign war chest while in office, he raised less than $10,000 between 2021 and 2022, a surprisingly low amount for a sitting elected official.

Schmidt has other advantages, however, like a wide swath of endorsements from a majority of the county’s board of commissioners and more than a dozen state lawmakers, which Vasquez has yet to match.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.