PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith has slashed his campaign advertising, according to a report in Willamette Week.
Does that mean he's calling it quits?
No he is not, according to his campaign managers. They told us Smith is not paying attention to recent polls showing he is way behind and he is not throwing in the towel after Portland's police and fire unions pulled their endorsement.
Smith has been under fire in recent weeks over an incident involving a college student at the University of Oregon. He said during a news conference on Oct. 1 that he struck a woman at a college party, although he claims he acted in self-defense.
The incident has become a major campaign issue for the candidate. Willamette Week Reporter Aaron Mesh began looking into Smith campaign contributions and spending after news of the assault broke, and he told KATU he saw clear trends in both.
"He was averaging $3,500 a day in donations and in the 10 days following that, his average fell to about $930 a day," Mesh said. "So it fell off a cliff, basically."
Smith did get about $9,000 in donations over the weekend, mostly from two big donors. But Mesh said Smith also slashed a new television advertising purchase by $50,000, about a quarter of what the candidate had originally planned to spend.
"I would describe that as a fairly unprecedented move in regional politics," Mesh said.
We stopped by Smith's Southeast Portland campaign office on Tuesday to find out more. We were not allowed inside with our camera, but Smith's campaign manager, Henry Kraemer, agreed to talk about the strategy of drastically cutting advertising so close to Election Day.
"Our volunteers are out knocking on doors, talking to voters and voters care about the issues facing the future of the city," Kraemer said. "And that's the thing we're talking about and the thing we hope the race is going to be about for the next 21 days."
Kraemer said staffers noticed Smith was getting more support by having volunteers go door-to-door and talking to voters in person.
"And reaching voters that aren't usually reached by television," Kraemer said. "Young voters, voters of color, voters that aren't usually reached by traditional advertising."
Kraemer said Smith was not available for comment but the candidate will be in the KATU studios on Thursday for an interview that will then be aired Sunday at 9 a.m. on KATU's Your Voice, Your Vote.