Eliza Sohn

IT WAS OBVIOUS what mayoral can-didate Sho Dozono planned to tell the assembled gaggle of reporters. His campaign manager, daughter, wife, and volunteers were all smiles, bustling about Dozono's downtown campaign office in the minutes before a scheduled Monday morning, March 24, press conference.

Dozono had taken the weekend to decide whether or not to stay in the mayor's race, following an administrative law judge's March 20 ruling that a $27,295 poll Dozono accepted in December violated the $12,000 cap on in-kind contributions for publicly financed candidates. In other words, Dozono lost over $160,000 in public funds for his race, and had to decide whether to continue with what little money he had, drop out, or start dialing for dollars.

And—as evidenced by the buzz in the room—Dozono opted to stay in the race despite an earlier pledge to bow out if he wasn't certified as a publicly financed candidate. "I don't think of quitting as an option," Dozono said.

Moreover, he insists he's not flip-flopping, saying that he still considers himself certified, despite the judge's overturning of that status. "Let me make it clear what happened last week. It was not about whether I was qualified or not qualified to be a publicly financed candidate. It was about a judge's decision to overturn the city auditor's decision. I've done everything that was asked of me by the auditor from the moment I stepped into his office to pick up the packet on January 7. I followed all the rules. But it is a work in progress." (Dozono's attorney has written an appeal of the ruling, but hasn't filed it yet, and Dozono's campaign manager says it's unlikely he will file it.)

Additionally, in a move that perfectly sums up Dozono's candidacy to date—he's focused more on how his style and resume differ from his main opponent, Sam Adams, than on outlining policy specifics—Dozono declined to specify how he'd finance his campaign. He said he'd make another announcement the next day as to whether he'd cap individual or total contributions, or accept any of the multi-thousand dollar pledges that had already been offered. He then launched a fundraising drive on his website that afternoon. (A day later, Dozono's campaign announced a $500 individual contribution cap and an overall $200,000 cap, the same as Adams' self-imposed limits, "to maintain the spirit of Voter-Owned Elections.")

Both Adams and Dozono slipped right back into campaign rhetoric within moments of Dozono's announcement. Dozono's Campaign Manager Amie Abbott released a statement criticizing Adams' original challenge of Dozono's certification, saying Adams' "legal challenge was never done to protect the system; it was done for his own self-interest." She also called the city's Office of Transportation, which Adams oversees, "his own self-promotion machine and campaign slush fund," citing public outreach for the commissioner's $464 million street-fee proposal.

Adams, meanwhile, welcomed Dozono back into the race and said he looks forward to their debates. He then dismissed Abbott's assessment, and had a barb of his own: "That kind of charge is what you do when you're a desperate campaign."