Smith reveals Hales told him not to run for mayor

Smith reveals Hales told him not to run for mayor »Play Video
Jefferson Smith and Charlie Hales on election night (KATU Photos)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith, who survived the primary and will face off with his opponent, Charlie Hales, in the fall, said Wednesday that Hales told him during a phone call not to run for mayor.

"When we got in the race we were told by – actually, Charlie Hales – he told me on the phone that I should bow out because I didn't have a chance. And this was on the day I was scheduled to announce," Smith said during an interview with KATU News the morning after the primary election.

Hales disputed some of the details of the story, saying it was not a phone call but a lunch meeting. He also said the context of the conversation was not just to tell Smith to stay out of the mayor’s race, but to convince him he was better suited for a different job that doesn't deal with the day-to-day administrative duties that come with being mayor.

Smith said Hales presented internal polling data showing Smith would have difficulty winning the race.

"I urged him to reconsider," Hales said Wednesday. "Because again, I didn't think he was well-suited to the office, and it looked like a long-shot."

Hales said he was more motivated to explain the complexities of the mayor's job than to discourage Smith from running.

"It's really not big speeches and policy. So if you really like big speeches and policy this probably isn't a good office for you and it will be hard for you to win it and love it."

Smith said Hales also asked for his support.

"I can see why any candidate would rather have fewer rather than more opponents," Smith said during a later interview. "I don't fault him for that at all. I take it as motivation for the work we're doing to demonstrate that we have a chance."

Smith said he waited to bring the conversation up until after the primary, because he wanted to make sure that he did, in fact, have support from voters.

Smith and Hales beat Eileen Brady and 20 other candidates in Tuesday’s primary. Since neither he nor Hales received more than 50 percent of the vote, they will battle for the city’s top job in the November General Election.