Nick of time
It's a big deal to be endorsed by the O -- especially when you've also gotten the nod (at least so far) from Willamette Week. And while scoring the vote of an editorial board is always a coup, having a newspaper reverse field and withdraw an endorsement of one's opponent is sweet indeed.
It couldn't come at a better time for Fish. Although his campaign is displaying extreme confidence at this point, my own intuition is that the race is very close, and that Adams has closed the sizeable gap from the primary to virtually nothing. The talk I'm hearing is all of Adams, and while the Fish lawn signs appear to have dwindled in number, the Sam signs keep popping up wherever I drive. And the ballots will be hitting the mailboxes any time now, won't they?
The new Adams signs are funny to me. In the primary and all summer, the font and format of his lawn placards was totally West Hills chic -- stately and dignified, like something out of a Rejuvenation catalog. All of a sudden, the new ones are straight outta 82nd Street -- "We trust Sam to SHAKE UP City Hall!" in a font reminiscent of an early Superman comic.
Apparently Adams's camp has finally figured out that the voters of Portland are sickened by the junk coming out of the Council Chambers the last few years, and that the only way to win this race is to disown all of it. Of course, for Adams, whose years as mayoral aide has earned him the title of the "brains behind Vera Katz," to tout his "outsider" status is ridiculous. But that's what he's selling this month, and I think people are buying. (BTW, if you put those brains in a bird, it would fly backward.)
Everybody says what a close call it is between Adams and Fish. Both would be worthy of the seat that they're seeking. And if Adams were to run against Dan "Nemo" Saltzman, I'd vote for him in a minute.
But this is Fish's time.
The O also endorsed Jim Francesconi today, a hopeless cause if there ever was one. (Oh yeah, I hear there's a poll that that race is suddenly close, but there was also a poll before the primary that gave James Posey 10 percent of the vote.) Interestingly, the editorial supporting Fish based its rationale in part on the more likely outcome that Tom Potter will be elected mayor. Apparently, the O prefers Potter-Fish "chemistry" to Potter-Adams. Potter-Adams would be two "insiders," and the O would rather have one "outsider" in the mix.
I agree. As much as Potter's backers see him as an agent of change, that's a doubtful proposition. As the Willamette Week suggested the other day, if Potter is elected, there's a good chance that Commissioner Erik Sten, Mr. Consummately Inside, will be the de facto mayor. Potter doesn't know his way around most city bureaus at all, and he'll likely count on Sten, whose endorsement propelled his candidacy, to sweat the details. And so to me, a vote for Potter is only a mild statement of displeasure at the current state of affairs at City Hall.
All the more reason to try to say something with a vote for Nick Fish. When it comes to breaking the stranglehold that the developers and the West Hills Old Money have on Portland, he at least looks as though he may be the real deal. He and Randy Leonard have the potential to be the most dynamic duo that the council has seen in decades.
(Elsewhere in municipal election news, the latest campaign finance disclosures are reportedly due tomorrow. It will be interesting to see who pungles up the dough to finance these races -- or has their secretaries do so.)
UPDATE, 9/27, 10:25 p.m.: Nick Fish's latest campaign contribution disclosures really worry me. If he's going to shake up City Hall, you couldn't tell it from the many moneyed interests here in town who are bankrolling his campaign in the general election. I've toned down some of my high praise for him in this post accordingly, and I'll have a separate post about this shortly.