Why Brady failed
There'll be a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking today about the Portland mayoral election. How could a smart, accomplished woman like Eileen Brady, with literally a million dollars to spend, lose an election to a scatterbrained, unemployable community organizer like Jefferson Smith? There'll be all sorts of criticisms of the way she campaigned, where she spent her money, what she said, how she looked.
But the real reason Brady lost is that this is Portland, and in Portland, it's all about connections. Not what you know, but who you know. And Brady simply got out-connectioned by Charlie Hales and Smith.
Hales is a long-time shill for the real estate developer cabal. That's what he did on the City Council, and that's what he did for a living after he left. As we noted last night, this photo says it all -- that's Homer Williams, whose serial rape of the Portland city treasury knows no bounds, on the platform behind smiling, victorious Charlie. Regardless of what he might say to get elected, Hales will be all about slipping money, a lot of money, behind him to his right, to Williams and guys like him.
And it's not just the developers. Most of the West Hills money was behind Hales. Vera Katz sent up the endorsement smoke signal, Mike Lindberg was campaign treasurer -- it might as well have been Neil Goldschmidt himself patting Hales on the back. The people who own Portland need somebody they can trust to keep funneling the tax dough their way, and Hales is their man. Portland's tired mainstream media -- including Willamette Week, which is no longer an alternative publication, if it ever was one -- couldn't contain their enthusiasm for him.
Smith is just the old guard of the Democratic Party machine in a 30-something-year-old's clothing. His parents run that machine, and he has developed a little auxiliary of his own among the younger set. The soccer fops and the bike clowns love his affected weirdness. Then, importantly, he got the police and firefighters' unions to support him, and then the City Hall AFSCME local, and some teacher union types as well. Fireman Randy weighed in, signalling that Lil Jeffy would protect the PERS. Smith picked up some additional votes by opposing the Interstate 5 bridge, and he managed to deflect the many questions about his personal track record, which is spotty, to say the least.
So there Brady was, with the real estate sharpies and the Goldschmidtters behind Hales, and the party machine and government employees' unions behind Smith. What did she have to overcome that?
Well, she is a strong woman, which counts for something. She had run successful businesses, and she had lots of of rich backers -- including some real estate tycoons that would doubtlessly have moved in as most favored developer-welfare recipients had she prevailed. She said a lot of smart things. But the business on which she hung her star is not a union shop, and that cost her.
And when she tried to straddle jobs and "green," it didn't exactly work. We decided not to vote for Brady when we learned she supported (a) building the insane "sustainability center," (b) forcing light rail on Vancouver, and (c) paving over bald eagle habitat for a pointless Port of Portland shipping terminal on West Hayden Island.
But it wasn't the issues that killed Brady's candidacy. In the end, her initial traction simply wasn't enough to counter her fundamental lack of connections.
This is Portland. You either play along with the unions and the real estate dudes and the Goldschmidt people, or you stay on the outside of City Hall, looking in.