It's over before it's really begun. Sources inside the Portland Police Bureau close to Chief Mike Reese confirm the chief will announce today that he will NOT run for mayor of Portland next year.
The reason? He's decided he can be more effective as chief of police. He also would face some serious logistical hurdles in raising money and building a campaign after starting months after the other candidates. And Occupy Portland hasn't made that any easier for him.
Reese this morning acknowledged collecting campaign cash but said his announcement would be delayed. I'm told he hadn't given word to Mayor Sam Adams yet and that's why he didn't mention his decision earlier today.
More updates as they come.
Update 4:10 PM: The chief has sent out an official statement confirming he won't be a candidate.
After careful consideration, I've decided that I can best serve the community and the Portland Police Bureau by remaining the Chief of Police. I will not be a candidate for Mayor. I appreciate the kind words of support and encouragement that have been offered to me these past few weeks. It has been humbling to say the least to hear these positive comments.
Running for political office is a time-consuming and daunting task. I wish all the candidates the best as they move forward with their campaigns.
Update 6:15 PM: So what pushed Reese out of the race, instead of in—something that seemed like a lock after the Mercury broke the news the chief had opened a state fundraising account?
Sources close to the chief say it was less the bad press over the weekend—he was hammered over the pepper-spraying of protesters and for taking a poke at Occupy Portland by making an unresearched mention of a rape case—and more that he had too much work left to do as chief.
See the rest after the cut.
Occupy, and any discipline or findings from the pepper-spraying, are still hanging over the bureau. So are steep budget cuts that could include some of Reese's cherished programs, like Project Respond and other cash for social services. There might even be layoffs.
Beyond the budget, the federal use of force investigation is incomplete, and the remainder of the 2010-2011 shooting cases (not to mention road-ragin' Sergeant Kyle Nice's case) also await the chief's mark.
Reese would have had only until January or so to handle all that before having to start campaigning full time. And it was telling, amid chatter in city hall and with cops, that no one consensus replacement for Reese had emerged. Everyone had a pick, but it rarely was the same pick. Unlike, I'm told, when Mayor Adams fired Rosie Sizer in May 2010 and everyone knew Reese would be the guy to take over.
It seems likely Reese would have overcome the past weekend's headlines, provided he didn't make the same mistake twice. His apology showed political chops, especially for a newbie candidate. It was forthright and resonated with his critics—a textbook example of confronting a gaffe head on, taking responsibility for it, and then putting it to rest.
But a talent for handling scrutiny and actually wanting to subject yourself to it while still having another very demanding, also very heavily scrutinized job, are two different matters. And, of course, Reese lost a few crucial weeks of pre-holidays fundraising thanks to Occupy Portland.
Although, even then, he didn't need that much to be competitive.
Polls showed him right up there with Eileen Brady—who has spent an eye-popping $176,000-plus on her race and still was essentially tied with someone who hadn't actually been running or raising money or making campaign events only until after those polls came out. (Can someone say Brad Avakian?
They have the same consultant team, even!)
Expect to see Reese one some kind of ballot, some time soon. He's ambitious, and he can retire after June with his full pension, and maybe after having drafted a succession plan with Adams. His labor position statement, which he wrote himself, showed he's got promise, and that he wouldn't necessarily be a shill for the Portland Business Alliance.
Meanwhile, I'm still waiting to see who actually did give him money. And I'll be even more curious as to which of the three remaining candidates (Brady, Charlie Hales, and Jefferson Smith) they had previously been giving to—or which ones they'll start giving to.
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