Former Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, vying for Jeff Cogen's old seat atop the county, is crowing over a string of endorsements today—and injecting just the tiniest bit of mud into what may be the most-contested race in the May primaries.
Turns out Kafoury's earned backing from three of the Portland-area's law enforcement honchos: Sheriff Dan Staton, District Attorney Rod Underhill, and Portland Police Chief Mike Reese. All three endorsements are a feather in the cap of a prospective county chair, since law enforcement is often a front line for getting people the various mental health and social services the county offers. (You need look no further than last year's kerfuffle over the Crisis Assessment and Treatment Center to get a sense of how competing police and county priorities can lead to difficulty.)
Staton and Underhill are both elected officials, of course, but also often seek the blessing of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on budgeting and, occasionally, policy matters.
Just last week, for instance, Underhill appeared before the board to advocate for additional funds that will be used to give deputy districts attorneys raises—part of a new labor contract. And Staton, under a new arrangement this budget year, has to appear before the board once every three months to request money to pay his staff overtime.
In other words, it's in their interest to have a friendly face chairing the board. Should former Portland City Commissioner Jim Francesconi—Kafoury's chief opponent—win the race, relations could prove frosty.
Kafoury's also trumpeting the endorsements of several unions and state advocacy groups. More importantly, she's kicking just the smallest bit of dirt in what so far has been a clean and mannerly race. Her release is headlined "Kafoury Announces Latest Endorsements, Far Outpaces Her Opponent in Community Support," and includes a bit about how she's "opening up a big lead in community support."
Kafoury previously announced the support of many of her former colleagues on the board of commissioners—excepting Diane McKeel, who has been mulling her own bid for Cogen's old seat—and Gov. John Kitzhaber.
Francesconi and Kafoury both have the ability to attract cash (Francesconi says his ample fundraising in a failed 2004 race for mayor sowed mistrust among voters), and have raised roughly $92,000 and $100,000, respectively.