Elections | Oregon | Politics | Portland Mayoral Race

Personal Limits Muddy Mayoral Race Money Picture

OPB | Aug. 28, 2012 10:01 a.m. | Updated: Aug. 31, 2012 3 a.m. | Portland

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The approach of Labor Day weekend means Portland’s competitive mayoral race will kick into high gear.

Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith are now competing under a series of self-imposed fundraising restrictions. April Baer reports on how much the candidates have to spend, heading into the run-off.

Candidates for Mayor of Portland Jefferson Smith and Charlie Hales

Candidates for Mayor of Portland Jefferson Smith and Charlie Hales

OPB


Charlie Hales has raised more money overall, but heavy primary spending took its toll on his campaign’s balance.

Now Jefferson Smith has a $100,000 financial lead on Hales, according to their latest campaign filings.

Both candidates adopted campaign finance limits over the summer. But the effect of those limits is complex. Smith and Hales have taken in smaller dollar-figures since they declared  their respective limits.

But Smith has more donors. He also benefited from a window of unrestricted fundraising after Hales limited contributions. While Hales was taking in smaller checks, Smith waited six more weeks, making no move to limit his receipts.

Smith’s take for that period, June 21 to August 1, exceeds $130,000. During that time, Hales raised only $36,000.

Paul Gronke is a professor of Political Science at Reed College.  He points out the candidates chose different kinds of restrictions for their fundraising: Hales picked a $600 per donor limit and a ban on out-of-state donations, Smith chose a higher, $1000 per donor limit, and pledged an overall spending cap of $500,000, unless more is spent on behalf of his opponent.

Now, Gronke says, it remains to be seen how the candidates will spend their money.

“I think the restrictions are meaningful. The question is do we want them to be able to advertise on television? Do we want them to be able to buy radio and other media buys? If we restrict the campaign donations, they’re going to have to try to get the information out by other means.”

While traditional hand-shaking and door-knocking are important, Gronke says, it’s impossible for candidates to reach every voter in person.

In spite of the campaigns self-imposed restrictions, Gronke expects both Hales and Smith will reach seven-figure fundraising totals before November.

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