The city of Portland has ranked choice voting, so why not ranked choice surveys?

Candidate Michael Brennan said he and volunteers plan to fan out around the city Saturday, asking voters to rank a selection of issues in order of importance. The survey will seek to gauge levels of comparative interest in education, economic development, City Hall responsiveness, quality of life and the city’s relationship with state government.

Brennan said the ranking is intended not just to get a handle on the voters’ concerns, but also to remind the electorate that ranked choice voting will be used in the first popular election of a mayor in Portland since 1923.

He said he’ll use the results to help him decide which themes he should focus on as the campaign gets under way.

Brennan also noted that ranked choice voting could have an impact on fall landscaping. Homeowners may want to put several lawn signs in front of their houses, noting not only their preferred candidate, but a couple of other top choices.

“You might end up seeing two or three signs on people’s lawns,” he said.

And those signs may start sprouting soon. Petitions to get on the ballot won’t be turned in for a few more weeks, but Brennan said the large field of candidates, the unusual voting method and the fact that its the first Portland mayoral election since the early days of the Roaring ’20s may have candidates itching to get started.

“I think everyone realizes at this point that you can’t wait until after Labor Day,” Brennan said. “We have just three months left.”

BAYSIDE BOWL ON A ROLL

Bayside Bowl has become the place to be for progressive Election Night parties in Portland. The campaign to pass the charter change that created the elected mayor’s position held its victory party there last November and supporters of the people’s veto effort to overturn the Legislature’s elimination of Election Day registration will hold an event there to thank petition-gatherers this month.

So far, none of the candidates has exhibited the self-confidence to book Bayside Bowl for election night, but general manager and owner Charlie Mitchell said he’s kicking around a plan to get things rolling with the mayoral candidates this fall.

Mitchell said he’d like the candidates to put together teams to go bowling and raise money for community nonprofits.

Just one problem: there are 12 lanes, and 19 candidates, so he may have to be selective in sending out invitations.

“It’d be something fun, to get them all – or least 12 of them – in the same place,” he said.

STRIMLING HAS DONORS, FRIENDS

Elections aren’t just about votes. It’s also about money to attract those votes.

Ethan Strimling was – so far – the last candidate to get into the race, but he’s hoping that the late start doesn’t hurt his ability to raise money.

“It’s sort of uncharted waters and I don’t think anybody knows what it’s going to cost,” he said.

As an experienced candidate – Strimling has run for the City Council, won three state Senate races and also ran in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House – he knows the importance of money.

Strimling said he’s got 80 committed donors of the 100 he’s looking for to help him raise $10,000 by Aug. 15, which happens to be the first day that candidates can turn in petitions to get on the ballot.

Strimling is also happy with the response to a cheap way to keep in touch with voters: a Facebook page, launched a week ago, which was closing in on 500 friends by late Tuesday, less than a week after it was launched.

But on Facebook, there’s no way to tell whether someone’s a first-choice friend or a 19th-choice friend.

BRAGDON GOING ONLINE ONLY

Not too many people are getting into the newspaper business these days, but Charles Bragdon is defying industry economics – and trying to pick up some votes in his campaign for mayor.

Bragdon has published five issues of the weekly Portland Gazette, which has a mix of newspaper traditional features – movie reviews, Soduko, commentary – plus some personal perspectives of the editor, meaning Bragdon.

In a recent issue, for instance, Bragdon wrote about some unpleasant encounters he’s had with competing candidates. He’s also used the publication to continue his feud with opponent Erick Bennett.

On the Gazette’s Facebook page, Bragdon said he’s switching from print and electronic versions to online only. He said a political opponent sent out an email to carriers and advertisers calling his publication’s contributors “proto-fascists,” hurting his ability to sustain advertising and forcing him to go to online-only publication.

 

MAYORAL RACE 2011 is a weekly column on the Portland mayor’s race.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]