PORTLAND, Ore. – Former City Commissioner Charlie Hales and state Rep. Jefferson Smith will head for a November runoff in their race to be the next mayor of Portland.
Election results as of Wednesday morning had Hales with 38 percent of the vote, Smith with 31 percent and businesswoman Eileen Brady with 23 percent. The city charter dictates that the top two finishers in a primary square off in November if no candidate receives a majority of votes.
Shortly after 11 p.m., Brady conceded the race and congratulated Smith and Hales. She also thanked them for running a clean campaign and hoped it would stay that way.
"For all the people of Portland: I've heard you. Jefferson and Charlie have heard you," she said. "We need to build a strong economy and we have to have a job base here that supports all Portlanders. We need to fully fund our schools. We need to truly take care of our children, from their education all the way through creating career opportunities."
She said it was too early to endorse either Hales or Smith.
- View all Election Results
- Portland Mayoral Race Results
- Interview: Jefferson Smith
- Interview: Charlie Hales
After the first numbers were released at 8 p.m., supporters at the Hales' campaign erupted into a party atmosphere and staff said they were looking forward to continuing the campaign into the fall after a short break.
Hales spoke to supporters at about 8:20, saying he credited his efforts to listening to voters and reflecting their priorities such as fixing streets, keeping parks green and improving public safety.
As if on cue, as he finished up his speech, a streetcar rolled by his campaign office. Upon seeing it, his supporters erupted into applause in tribute to Hales' past support and development of streetcars and light rail.
In an interview after his speech, Hales said he was surprised about how far ahead he was over Smith but said his campaign worked hard for votes.
"We've gone out and listened to people on their doorstep; we've had house parties all over the city," he said. "Our campaign isn't slick ... but our campaign is genuine."
He said his city government experience sets him apart and gives voters a clear choice in November.
Shortly after 9:15, Smith walked to the stage at his campaign party and proclaimed to his supporters: "I'm Jefferson Smith, and I might still be running for mayor." It was a reference to the election results that indicated he might be able to continue his campaign to a fall runoff.
It was also how he started his TV commercials, debates and interviews during the primary, which was, "I'm Jefferson Smith, and I'm running for mayor."
It may have also been a slight jab at those he said told him not run at all or quit while he was a distant third in the polls. But at the end of the night voters endorsed his continuance in the race and a November showdown with Hales.
"We've got a chance" at winning, he said.
He thanked his supporters for knocking on 49,000 doors and his staff for working tirelessly on his campaign and proclaimed that Portland is the city where "the public interest can win."
In the City Council race, incumbent Amanda Fritz and her challenger state Rep. Mary Nolan were essentially tied. Nolan was edging out Fritz by almost 300 votes just before 11 p.m. She had 45 percent to Fritz' 44 percent.
It appeared they would battle for the seat in November's General Election. Like in the mayor's race, a candidate would had to have received at least 50 percent of the vote to win Tuesday night.
In another City Council race, Steve Novick, a former candidate for U.S. Senate, was far ahead in the race for Position No. 4. He had 74 percent of the vote while his next closest rival, Scott McAlpine, had only 8 percent.
Since Novick exceeded 50 percent, he won his race outright and won't face an opponent in November.
The mayoral candidates used the last few days and every available minute before the polls closed to greet voters and shake their hands in the hopes of getting every last vote.
The extra personal touch was due in part because pollsters had trouble figuring out who was ahead in the race. A KATU News/SurveyUSA poll released last week had the three leading candidates in a statistical tie, but with Smith surging and Brady stalled or losing some support.
During an interview last week, Reed College political science professor Paul Gronke said the candidates had trouble separating themselves in the minds of voters because none of them had “been able to grab the mantle of change and leadership.”
The mayor’s primary race was cordial and the leading candidates had appeared together in numerous debates and forums during the primary campaign, including a KATU News/Willamette Week debate late last month.
The City Council primary race was a bit more contentious. Nolan attacked Fritz over her record.
Fritz touted her campaign pledge to limit her campaign contributions to $50 per person, but it required her to donate over $100,000 to her own campaign.
Nolan said that was an indication that her opponent didn't have the broad support of voters. She said her money came from groups that didn't necessarily agree with each other, indicating they believe she will work with everyone to find common ground.
Current Mayor Sam Adams declined to run for a second term, leaving the seat wide open this year.
KATU News reporters Patrick Preston and Anita Kissée contributed to this report.
KATU News interviewed both Jefferson Smith and Charlie Hales Wednesday morning: