When City Commissioner Sam Adams announced he was going to vacate his seat in order to run for mayor, he kicked off the 2008 campaign not just for himself, but for at least five candidates who've been chomping at the bit to run for his seat.
Indeed, within days of his announcement, three more candidates piled on to the race: nurse/neighborhood activist Amanda Fritz, Portland Public Schools Development Director John Branam, and Citizens' Utility Board lobbyist Jeff Bissonnette.
So far, no credible candidate has emerged to challenge Adams' mayoral aspirations; there aren't even hints of any "first tier" candidates planning to run for mayor. That means he may need to raise even less than the self-imposed $200,000 overall contribution limit he's established for his campaign.
That no one has emerged as a likely contender against Adams could be chalked up to his popularity, or to the fact that it's still early in the campaign cycle, or that running against someone who's spent so much time in office (both as a commissioner and as a mayor's chief of staff) seems like a months-long exercise in political futility. Adams, though, hates the "i" word.
"I am not an incumbent," he bristled when asked if his incumbency was scaring off political challengers.
Even though he's not using the Voter Owned Election (VOE) program, Adams' campaign cap matches what mayoral candidates would get from the city. But he won't be burdened with the city's cumbersome technical requirements—requirements that have apparently already tripped up multiple city council candidates.
Without naming names, City Auditor Gary Blackmer says that numerous candidates have already flubbed the VOE's new rules, which are designed to keep people from repeating Emilie Boyles' campaign disaster, where she promised people future money if they helped her qualify for city funds.
The problem now isn't widespread fraud, Blackmer says, but a misunderstanding about when campaign bank accounts need to be opened and papers filed. Sensing a fiasco, Blackmer has decided to give every campaign a two-week window in which to sort out their accounts and stay in the black.