August 31, 2011

Four gone, 15 left: Field for Portland mayor now fits in a van

The race now stands at 15 official candidates, whittled down from 19 a week ago.

By Jason Singer jsinger@pressherald.com
Assistant City Editor / Online

Last week, Portland Daily Sun columnist Bob Higgins announced his candidacy for mayor with a blog post titled "The Fatboy is Running." Turns out "Fatboy" couldn't run fast enough.

Higgins withdrew from the race Monday, ending what could go down as the shortest candidacy in city history. With only 241 signatures and three hours to go before Monday's 4:30 p.m. deadline, Higgins conceded he wouldn't reach the 300 signatures he needed for his nomination petition.

On his final day, Higgins showed the quirkiness that made him an unusual candidate. To wit: a press release wishing an untimely demise for critics.

"To supporters of my campaign, I wish them well and thank them," he said. "And for those that did not support my effort to get on the ballot, I wish them the enjoyable experience of getting hit by a bus."

Who's still in

The race now stands at 15 official candidates, whittled down from 19 a week ago.

Higgins and Paul Schafer withdrew before Monday's deadline. Nicholas Hall never turned in signatures. Erick Bennett turned in 392 signatures on the final day, but only 295 belonged to registered Portland voters. That left him five short of the necessary 300.

Everyone else has been verified. Here's a quick analysis of the candidate pool:

AGE: The candidates range from 33 to 68. City Councilor David Marshall is the youngest; retired merchant seaman Peter Bryant is the oldest. In total, seven candidates are in their 40s, four are in their 50s, two are in their 30s and two are in their 60s.

According to Bryant, his age will work to his advantage. "There are 100 votes in the nursing home," he said, "so that's 100 votes for me right there."

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Six of the 15 candidates have held public office (Ethan Strimling, Nicholas Mavodones, Marshall, John Eder, Jill Duson and Michael Brennan). Of those, three are still in office. Duson, Marshall and Mavodones are city councilors; Mavodones is the mayor.

GENDER: Thirteen candidates are men; two are women. Jodie Lapchick said that helps her.

"Women tend to be more humble and quicker to change course when something isn't working," she said, so she and Duson may offer something different from the other candidates.

Duson doesn't want to be pigeonholed as a female candidate. She said via email: "I am an extraordinarily well-qualified and credentialed candidate whose race and gender, while critical to the human being that I am, are incidental to this campaign."

NEIGHBORHOODS: The West End leads with four candidates (Eder, Marshall, Lapchick and Strimling); Munjoy Hill has three (Charles Bragdon, Ralph Carmona and Markos Miller) as does Back Cove (Bryant, Mavodones and Brennan). North Deering (Duson and Chris Vail), Bayside (Jed Rathband), East Deering (Hamza Haadoow) and Riverton (Richard Dodge) are also represented in the race.

PARTY AFFILIATION: Although it's a nonpartisan election, party affiliation can tell you something about a candidate. Nine candidates identify themselves as Democrats; three as independents (Bragdon, Miller and Vail); one as a Republican (Dodge); and two as Green Party members (Eder and Marshall).

Dodge said that having no other Republicans helps his campaign.

"It makes you stand out, even in a field this big," he said.

Tapping the Ivies

No one can accuse Rathband of not trying to win – he's plucked an Ivy League political mind for his team.

Simon Thompson, Rathband's campaign manager, is campaign director of the Harvard Democrats and editor of the Harvard Political Review.

Endorsement flap

Last week, Carmona sent out a press release announcing that former Portland Mayor Esther Clenott had endorsed him. The release contained a photo of the two smiling and wearing "Carmona for Mayor" stickers.

On Tuesday, Clenott called The Portland Press Herald and said she hasn't publicly endorsed any candidate. She never approved the press release, she said, and never consented to being quoted.

"I was very, very angry when I read that," Clenott said.

Tuesday night, the Carmona campaign issued a statement: "When last I spoke with Mrs. Clenott, I was in her home as an invited guest, in an atmosphere of cordial goodwill and shared positive wishes for the city of Portland. She reviewed my press release and said she was 'absolutely behind' me. We made plans for working together going forward. I have not heard from her directly.

"I respect every voter's right to make up his or her own mind. My goal is to earn the vote of every Portlander – Mrs. Clenott included – based on my experience and hard work. I intend to stay focused on that goal."

 

Staff Writer Jason Singer can be reached at 791-6437 or at: jsinger@pressherald.com

 

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