Eleven former Portland mayors have endorsed City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau’s bid to become the next mayor, his campaign announced Friday.

Three of the former mayors – city councilors Nicholas Mavodones, Jill Duson and former councilor David Brennerman – already had endorsed Thibodeau. But the endorsements of the other eight are new, including that of state Rep. Michael Brennan, who was the first to hold the position after it was changed from a ceremonial post selected by councilors every year to a popularly elected full-time position with a four-year term.

Three of Thibodeau’s supporters – Cheryl Leeman, Anne Pringle and Jack Dawson – supported incumbent Mayor Ethan Strimling during his 2015 campaign to unseat Brennan. Another former mayor joining the endorsements for Thibodeau, Pamela Plumb, was the chair of the charter commission that created the elected mayor position that was approved by voters in 2010.

“Spencer stands in stark contrast to our current mayor in terms of temperament, skills, integrity and experience,” Dawson said in a written statement. “He will be a breath of fresh air for Portland residents who are looking for a change and for someone to fulfill the role of mayor as envisioned by the charter.”

Other former mayors supporting Thibodeau include Nathan Smith, Jim Cohen and Karen Geraghty.

The announcement comes in the closing days of a campaign that continues to heat up, with  Strimling’s re-election campaign trading ethics complaints with a political action committee formed to oppose his re-election.

Strimling made a similar announcement about the endorsement of five former mayors during his successful campaign for the job in 2015, but his campaign brushed off Thibodeau’s announcement Friday.

“More insiders endorsing Thibodeau is nothing new,” Strimling’s campaign manger Stephanie Clifford said in a written statement. “Mayor Strimling continues to fight for everyday Portlanders and that’s why he has the support of every Portland group that has endorsed in this race, including but not limited to Portland Working Waterfront Group, Equity in Portland Schools, Maine People’s Alliance, along with every immigrant leader, numerous current and former elected officials, and every labor union except one. That is what coalition building looks like.”

Eleven former Portland mayors have endorsed Spencer Thibodeau in the mayor’s race. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

The four-way race for mayor also includes former School Board member Kate Snyder and Travis Curran, a waiter. The winner, who will earn a salary of roughly $76,615, will be chosen through ranked-choice voting.

“Eight years ago we moved away from a system where Council insiders elected their leadership, to one where Portland voters decide who is best suited to lead,” Snyder said in a written statement. “I am proud of the community campaign that I have built. My team is made up of Portland people who represent all neighborhoods. There are some who have been elected, but mostly they are people who have never run for office but who engage in issues, raise families, and vote. I am aligned with no outside organizations, and my fundraising is being done solely by me, and my team.”

Leeman said in a video for Unite Portland, a political action committee that was formed to oppose Strimling but does not support any candidate, that she was asked to support Strimling in 2015 and decided to do so after he insisted he understood the role and the need to bring people together. She said that endorsement was “probably one of the worst mistakes I have ever made and I do regret it.”

In a written statement, Leeman praised Thibodeau, who has been endorsed by five sitting councilors and the police union.

“Portland needs experienced, trusted mayoral leadership with the proven ability to collaborate – bringing people together and putting Portland’s interests first,” she said. “Spencer Thibodeau is that person!”

Brennan, who was unseated by Strimling, said Thibodeau would be an “effective advocate.”

“Spencer has done a tremendous job working with city councilors and city staff to advance sustainable policies for the city,” he said. “For example, he helped make progress on renewable energy, property tax relief, and education.”

Strimling has been endorsed by Progressive Portland, 31 unions, including the city’s firefighters, as well as city councilor Pious Ali, former Portland Mayor Thomas Kane, two sitting state representatives and five school board members.

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