The conventional wisdom about running a race under a ranked-choice voting system is you don’t go negative.

The rationale is relatively simple.

In ranked-choice voting, voters select not just top choices, but also their second, third, fourth and succeeding choices, right on down to No. 19 (at press time in Portland’s mayoral race) for those really, really committed voters.

If a candidate starts blasting his or her opponents, that makes it a little hard to sell yourself as a good alternative to supporters of those candidates. Suggest that your opponents lack gray matter because they doesn’t understand the ins and outs of tax increment financing, and you’re also saying those candidates’ supporters aren’t so smart, either.

And if you don’t get those second- and third-choice votes you can’t make up ground, as low vote-getters are eliminated and the votes are reallocated.

In a conventional race, going negative can be a positive. You fire up core supporters and don’t worry about second place. Why, you can even get elected governor with — picking a number out of the air here — 38 percent of the vote.


So where does that leave our gang of 19? Why, they blast the governor, of course.

First, several mayoral candidates have been circulating not only their own nominating petitions to get on the ballot, but also petitions to subject the new law to eliminate Election Day voter registration — a bill signed by Gov. Paul Le-Page — to a referendum vote in November.

The Portland City Council — where a third of the members are running for mayor — approved a resolution opposing the new law.

Then LePage supposedly said he wasn’t interested in helping Portland try to lure back fishing boats to the port, just because the city’s voters didn’t support him in the election last year. LePage didn’t have his facts quite right if he really did say this — only 80 percent of Portland’s voters didn’t support him.

That gave candidate and current Mayor Nicholas Mavodones a perfect opportunity to grab the spotlight, sending LePage a letter saying that perhaps dissing — we’re paraphrasing here — the state’s largest city and economic engine wasn’t the best idea in the world. Other candidates also criticized the governor, but the letter and position got Mavodones an audience with the governor, scheduled for Thursday.

Finally, candidate Ralph Carmona joined the fun, demanding to see the agency review that was being conducted by Norman Olsen, who lambasted LePage as he headed out of the door of the Department of Marine Resources.


The review, according to Olsen, suggests the governor’s claim that the department was running like a fine clock is off base. Carmona can use a critical report to hit the governor for not helping Portland’s fishing industry.

The lesson here is that while you may want to avoid attacking your opponents, there’s little to be lost by taking on a Republican governor in a Democratic city. Expect to hear the governor’s name a lot as we roll into fall.


Jodie Lapchick is happy — sort of — to be one of two girls at the (mayoral) dance so far.

Lapchick said it’s “crazy and it’s disappointing from a sort of feminist standpoint” that only two women — she and City Councilor Jill Duson — are running for mayor when there are 19 candidates currently jockeying for spots on the ballot.

“One reason I’ve heard is that perhaps the women are all too smart,” she joked.


But there is a definite positive side, Lapchick noted.

As a marketing professional, Lapchick believes that a couple of women are likely to stand out among a large group of men. And, as a newcomer to politics — Duson has been on the council for nearly 10 years — Lapchick thinks she will draw even more notice.

“If you’ve got six men knocking on the door and then me, it’s an easier marketing job,” she said. “Even I get the men all confused.”

Attempts to reach Duson on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 719-6465 or at:

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.