MONTHS AFTER DECLARING for re-election, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz has yet to freshen up her campaign website—still mostly a musty museum for her successful 2008 run for Portland City Council.
I suspect it'll soon be time to change that.
The big-name mystery challenger I mentioned in a previous column ["Opportunity or Albatross," Hall Monitor, June 23], has finally come forward. Mary Nolan, six-time state representative and former director of Portland's sewer and stormwater bureau, announced her candidacy Tuesday, July 5. And wouldn't you know who's still listed among Fritz's supporters? Funny how things can change in three measly years.
"I've been looking at this for a while," Nolan told me about her decision to take on Fritz. "That's the seat where I can add the most value."
That's bad news for Fritz, who technically retains the power of incumbency but will hardly be able to muster it against the popular—and way, way better-connected—Nolan.
Fritz, running without the public financing system she used in her last campaign, has had to lend herself $25,000. Nolan, a prominent politico who co-chaired the House Ways and Means Committee, is already out-raising her.
Nolan will run on a nearly 12-year legislative record—Fritz has to live down a reputation for voting "no" in protest over finer points of council discussions as well as facing criticism over her handling of a new Office of Equity and the city's 911 system.
"We'll have a chance to have that conversation over the next few months," Nolan says, also explaining that she'd had several political insiders and others "reach out to me and encourage me to run."
Nolan now joins Steve Novick—running for Randy Leonard's soon-to-be-vacated seat—as a newly declared council candidate. The timing is not coincidental. Nor is it happenstance that Nolan decided not to challenge Novick, even though conventional political wisdom says an open seat would be that much easier to win.
And here's why: Both Novick and Nolan have Oregon's most powerful political consultant, Mark Wiener, on their respective payrolls. (It should also be noted that Leonard, who choreographed his retirement decision with Novick, is also a longtime Wiener client.)
"Mark is going to be helping us," Nolan confirmed to me when I asked.
I also asked Nolan, only half-jokingly, whether she and Novick might run as a slate. Obviously they wouldn't—but if both made it onto the council, and if Mayor Sam Adams runs and wins again, that'd leave poor Nick Fish all by his lonesome (Dan Saltzman is yet another Wiener client).
Of course, 2014 isn't that far away. And a lot can change in three years.