Welcome to the Blogtown Election Vulture's Lair! In this post, we'll be following races both near (mayor? city council? legal grass?) and far away (Barry-O vs. Willard the Mittens, gay marriage across the Columbia?). The latest updates start at the top of the page! For up to the second news and results follow us on the Twitter @portlandmercury or look for our friends at #ORelection or #pdxvotes.
Mercury 1st Election Battalion (nickname: Nightmare Warriors)
9:20 There's still an hourlong line to cast ballots in Multnomah County. But the last guy in line? He's Mark Conneughon. He was excited to vote against Charlie Hales and didn't even know who Hales was running against—someone named "Christopher"? Told Hales won going away, he said "It doesn't matter. Every vote counts." (SM)
9:14 Okay, so not all the numbers are yet in, but City Commissioner Amanda Fritzm cautious as ever, told the Mercury she feels pretty comfortable calling the results in her favor. So how will a second term by Fritz differ from her first term? Fritz says she’s going to stick to her roots, and regardless of this win, she maintains she’s not a career politician.
“People asked me a year into my first term if I was going to run again,” says Fritz. “And I was like, ‘Don’t you want to see if I’m doing a good job first?’ It wasn’t until the spring of last year that I said ‘Yeah, I’m doing a good job. I want to run again.’”
So what will change? For starters, Fritz says she wants a bureau with trucks. Apparently her bureaus aren’t big enough for trucks, and trucks are like a status thing in the sordid world of city hall. And beyond that Fritz hopes to bring back the now-defunct publicly funded campaign-financing program that she used to get elected in 2008. She says, so other would-be citizen politicians like herself don’t have to blow through their savings like she did during this campaign. (NG)
“That starts tomorrow,” says Fritz about getting the program back. She says she hopes to get a citizen initiative on the ballot by 2014. “My opponent said some pretty mean things and she outspent me, and that was scary because traditionally whoever has the big money endorsements wins, but I just held fast. But most people wouldn’t have the capacity to save their pay checks for the last four years and put into their campaign, which is what I did.”
As to those property taxes she still has to pay, Fritz says she’s working on it.
9:12 Even if Mary Nolan had won her campaign for Portland City Council (she conceded to incumbent Amanda Fritz 45 minutes ago), she'd still have the same plans for tomorrow: A hike in the Columbia River Gorge.
Few can fault Nolan. As to next week, or beyond, Nolan says she doesn't have any specific plans.
"I put a lot of energy into my professional life and volunteer work," Nolan says, adding that she hopes to apply that energy where it's most needed in the city. Fritz and Mayor-elect Charlie Hales, she says, "Face some pretty big challenges."
These challenges include disparities across demographics, concerns with infrastructure, environmental problems and relationships with suburban communities, Nolan says.
"I wish them all well," she says of local electeds.
"We were working for a different outcome, but we ran a campaign that we are extremely proud of," she says. "The stuff that really matters is getting president Obama re-elected, getting marriage equality in Maine and getting Elizabeth Warren elected to the Senate. Our country can be safe for the next four years."
Nolan stressed that her volunteers will keep working for progressive leadership in Portland.
"These folks are not just working for me," she says. (BL)
9:09 "I'm Jefferson Smith, and until about twenty minutes ago I was running for mayor." I wondered if Smith had actually prepared two speeches for the evening, whether or not there was a folded-up victory speech next to the inevitable concession speech that he just now gave. Smith's speech, probably wisely, emphasized his appreciation for his volunteers and how he intended to still stay involved (somehow) with Portland policy.
Presiding over a potentially dejected audience, Smith did his best to sound like a man giving a college commencement speech. He mentioned East Portland, the Columbia River Crossing, and coal more than once, and punctuated each of the issues with the litany "keep moving forward." Smith did his best to try to energize the crowd, emphasizing that several organizers would be circulating about offering opportunities to volunteer on issues like East Portland.
Smith is certainly and impassioned orator. He actually got the crowd to join him in his chant of "keep moving forward" toward the end of the speech. The chant took on an almost church-like quality, a hymn for people who had felt idealism, but had poured it into an imperfect vessel.
Before he disappeared behind a curtain, Smith offered an inkling of his future plans. "A lot of people have asked me what's next," he said, "I'm going to take a nap." (JS)
8:52 "Thank you all," Hales says, beaming. "The elections are finally over! Now it's time to get to the main job of running the city. I want you to be as proud as your city leadership as you are of Portland. My goal is to minimize drama and maximize results!"
Hales adds that he just got a call from Jefferson Smith, who said kind things. Hales says kind things about him, too, and throws Eileen Brady into the pot. Back to the point.
"I want to refocus city on it's basic services. I'm not going to rest until we have quality schools in every neighborhood." CHEERS. "I want a police bureau that works with the community." CHEERS. "I'm ready to pick up the tools and begin." CHEERS ALSO QUESTIONABLE THOUGHTS.
Shortly off stage, Hales says he "feels great. A little dazzled, but great. I'm going to enjoy myself tonight with the people that brought me here."
And what about the national biz? "Hales: "Is Obama still ahead?" (Clasps hands in prayer) "Oh I hope he gets it. Portland will be okay regardless of who's in charge at the federal level, but having a partner in the President would be wonderful." (AZ)
8:47 So far, in early returns, Democrats are up in Oregon state races! Secretary of State Kate Brown is edging Knute Buehler by seven points, and Brad Avakian is up over Bruce Starr by 7, in the labor commissioner's race, too. Let's call it for Ted Wheeler and Ellen Rosenblum. Richard Baldwin is barely ahead of Nena Cook in the nonpartisan State Supreme Court race. We'd have those results for ya a lot sooner, except Brown's office has a terribly slow website. Ahem. (DT)
8:39 State measures roundup! The real estate transfer tax ban has passed. Because voters are stupid and real estate interests are terrible. Pot is up 15 points... in Multnomah County. Casinos are obviously losing. But we lost the corporate kicker—yay schools! And the estate tax has not been done away with. (DT)
8:30 The mood is increasingly anxious at the Republican party. Everyone is checking their phones, hoping for a different result. But no, even FOX news has called the election for Obama. "I don't understand!" says a woman. "It's not even over yet!" Someone groans loudly.
I stand up front chatting with some Log Cabin Republicans, who remind me that Obama wasn't in support of same-sex marriage, either, until a few months ago. "We have our work cut out for us," says Oregon Log Cabin President James Owens, who is wearing the best tie in the house (skinny, plaid). "We'll be making the Republican party more inclusive, which will be making a better Republican party in the future." (SM)
8:25 Mary Nolan just effectively conceded her campaign for Portland City Council to Amanda Fritz, the incumbent commissioner.
She told volunteers that the early numbers showed it was unlikely she'd be victorious barring a miracle. Nolan's finance director reassured the crowd by letting them know "the bar is still here. The food is still here."
Within moments of Mary's announcement that she would soon call to congratulate Fritz, CBS News made its call for Obama's victory. The news picked up the crowd considerably. (BL)
8:20 CNN shows Kenyans celebrating, calling the race for Obama, and Steve Novick says "that's exactly who Republicans think should be celebrating."
8:18 And Fritz probably gets it.
The first unofficial results from the Multnomah County elections office are calling the election for City Commissioner Position # 1 for incumbent Amanda Fritz. The results so far are Fritz 76,924 votes and Nolan 56,207 votes.
In a quasi-acceptance speech, Fritz told her gathered supporters, “If this holds up, we get to keep doing what we are doing. Now party on, Garth." (NG)
8:15 Steve Novick, at the Mercury's party helping analyze local results, was stunned by Fritz's 15-point-plus lead. He says it looks like the Dems might pick up four state House seats. Everyone downstairs at the Doug Fir just started howling. Ohio yet? I'm banished upstairs in search of good wireles... (Denis C. Theriault)
8:10: Results coming in, Hales significantly ahead, crowd goes bezerk. Cheering and applause. "Call it!"
Me: "How long have you been a Hales supporter?"
Man by food table: "Since I started eating his food. Five minutes ago."
Me: Why are you here?
MBFT: The Mercury party was too crowded
Me: Did you vote for Hales?
MBFT: Shakes head, smiles mischievously, eats sandwich (AZ)
—We're back after some technical difficulties—
8:07 PM: Big leads for Amanda Fritz and Charlie Hales—30-some points. All local measures, including the arts tax, also are out to leads.
7:57 PM: The Republican party, headquartered out at Airport Embassy Suites, is not pleased with the results coming in over the TV stream. There was not even a murmur when Todd Akin's race was called as a "legitimate" loss, but when Wisconsin and New Hampshire were called for Obama, a speaker took the stage to rail against CBS, "Don't give up hope! We're not getting the straight news here!" Soon after, another speaker suggested switching the stream to FOX, garnering the largest cheer of the night.
At 6:40, Allen Alley took the stage, giving the crowd a quick but delusional pep speech. "Oregon is going to be the first red state on the west coast!" he proclaimed. Immediately after that, the Republicans shut off the TV stream altogether. In media blackout, we now must talk amongst ourselves. (SM)
7:55 PM: Nolan just exhibited her power of makeshift marimba playing. She clanged a glass to provide some pre-electorate speechifying as she awaits the results of her campaign against incumbent commissioner Amanda Fritz. Here's a snippet of what she said in remarks aimed at thanking the roomful of supporters gathering at the Hotel Lucia:
"We don't have numbers yet for here, but before we do that since many of you have been on the phones, on the doors, waving banners, hosting house parties, getting the word out, I just want to thank you. Together this team of a couple of hundred volunteers talked to tens of thousands of voters. I just learned that SEIU alone made 17,000 phone calls."
Says the crowd: "CHEER"
Also, the cured meats here are pretty tasty. (BL)
7:55 PM: Charlie Hales' party has a klesmer/wedding party band in full swing, with children adorably dancing in front of the stage. Meanwhile, guests down free food and (not as free) booze, nervously watching the national election results on overhead projectors. The tension bursts when the man of the hour, Chaz Hales, swoops into the room through Holocene's maroon curtains. "CHARLIE!" People rush. He grins, but his eyes show fear. Too many cheery faces swarming. And not enough sliders. All Hales has to say is "I"m so excited! Jittery! All of those things!" And he's bouncing nervously on his toes like he has to pee. Probably just wants it all to be over and done with. (Alex Zielinski)
7:43 PM Smith seems relaxed. He's working the room, shaking hands, and wrapping his giant, red-haired frame around anyone who wants a hug. "I feel really grateful... Look at these people," he said to me. "I don't think there's anybody here because they're trying to get a no-bid contract or access to city council... They're here because they love the city." In a certain way, he's right. I seriously doubt anyone in the room thinks Smith is going to win. People are here because they're a certain kind of partisan or idealist, and they're going to go down together. (JS)
7:25 PM: Just arrived at the campaign party for City Commissioner Amanda Fritz. The setting is the P:ear center for homeless youth on SW 6th Ave. It’s a small crowd of about 40 people gathered in a medium-sized room. There’s a large a screen broadcasting the national elections blaring in the corner, and pizza, lots and lots of pizza—and I’m kicking myself for having pizza for dinner tonight. I’m a fool. And on to the politics.
As far as local politics are concerned you can’t ask for a more entertaining race than that between incumbent City Commissioner and citizen politician Amanda Fritz and would-be challenger professional politico Oregon State Rep. Mary Nolan.
The prize is, of course, City Council Position No. 1. And if you’ve been following the Mercury’s coverage, watching the two ladies go at it has been a popcorn-munching goodtime. For starters, there were Nolan’s extremely negative ads against Fritz, which have only gotten slightly better since last spring.
Then came the by-the-skin-of-her-teeth win (a lead of just 1,474 votes) by Fritz in the May primarily that sent the two into a run off in this fall’s elections. Oh and there was Fritz’s attempts to take the high road and not take in big contributions like Nolan has, only to reverse her position and up she considered an acceptable contribution from $50 to $250. Which still wasn’t enough moola for Fritz to continue playing that affluent game called politics.
Fritz has reportedly spent $300,000 of her own cash to hold-up her campaign. So who’s winning? Who the hell knows—and we’ll keep you posted—but the most recent poll from the Oregonian has Fritz ahead by eight points. But the Fritz told the Mercury she’s not at all encouraged by the poll.
“Their poll has 32 percent [of voters] undecided,” says Fritz, “And while I would rather be eight points up rather than eight points down, I find that discouraging.” Also discouraging for Fritz are her finances. Fritz told the Mercury she’s used up all of her remaining savings on this campaign. “We have a property tax payment due next month, and I’m not sure how we are going to pay it,” she said. (Nathan Gilles)
7:20 I arrived about ten minutes ago at the Hotel Lucia, where 17 people are gathered for Mary Nolan's campaign party. As you'll recall, Nolan and Commissioner Amanda Fritz are locked in a run-off election for Fritz's seat. The Portland City Council race is hotly contested. Right now attendees are ignoring the national election news on two TV screens. They're eating salami, puff pastries and drinking generous pours of wine. No verdict yet on the food, but I'll make sure you all have an answer on that soon. The crowd has doubled since I started typing this. (Bill Lascher)
7:15 Jefferson Smith's election night party has a kind of school carnival air about it. A multicolored bouncy castle dominates the Melody Ballroom, there's a photobooth with a plethora of silly hats and mask, and, most of all, there are puppies. Actual, real puppies that you can pet and nuzzle and have your face licked by. In short, it looks absolutely nothing like the inevitable carnival of gloom and defeat that it shall inevitably become. (Joe Streckert)
7 PM In the stifling heat and smell of SE 82nd Avenue's World Famous Cannabis Cafe, a cheer went up as Pennsylvania was called for Obama. Fifty or so medical marijuana users and advocates sat watching the returns on a TV decorated with a pot-themed American flag as bartenders brought out a fresh round of food samples—a giant pile of chicken wings, a mountain of cream cheese jalapeno poppers, and plates of "Oh My Ganja" rice crispie treats made on site with pot butter.
A woman in a green kermit hat tagged with a matching "Measure 80" pin took four of those treats while the "budtender" behind the bar offered a hit off a foot-tall pipe known as the Sherlock Holmes. This is all legal in the cannabis cafe under Oregon law: Only medical marijuana cardholders are allowed in the private club and all cannabis on site is given away for donations or free. But if marijuana legalization Measure 80 passes tonight, the Cannabis Cafe could turn into a for-profit operation and places like it would sprout up all over the state.
Despite the measure's dismal polling, the crowd was upbeat and laid-back. "Am I crazy for thinking it will pass?" said activist Anna Diaz. The big issue is not public support for marijuana, says Diaz, but money for the political effort. Diaz says she hosted two of Measure 80's largest fundraisers, and those brought in only $2,000. Without good polls, the measure could not get big national money, she said.
National NORML board member Madeline Martinez was also optimistic. She's been smoking marijuana for over 45 years and is hopeful that it will soon be legalized—if not this year in Oregon, then very soon. "I think we're just going to keep progressing," she said, as a youthful student next to her took a rip of a bong proffered by a man in a wheelchair.
Next up: Heading to the Republican shindig by the airport. My photographer confirms I reek of weed. (Sarah Mirk)