IT'S OVER, and it had barely just begun.
Police Chief Mike Reese—hours after he told the Mercury that he was collecting campaign cash, and after engaging in candidate forums and huddling with consultants—announced on Monday, November 21, that he would not be running for mayor next year after all.
The Mercury broke the news just before the chief went public himself. In an interview on his political ambitions earlier in the day (one of the few Reese has given on the subject), he said only that his heavy workload of late—hello, Occupy Portland!—was delaying any decision.
So, did Occupy really manage to sink Reese's plans to run the city? The answer, I think, is yes. But not for the reasons you might assume.
In many quarters—including, implicitly, in Tuesday's Oregonian story—immediate speculation was that Reese decided he'd fatally wounded his chances when he jabbed at occupiers, on live TV last Thursday, November 17, by invoking a delayed response to a rape call. That immediately outraged reasonable people, who grew even angrier when the chief later admitted the call had actually come 11 days earlier.
Others were sure Reese bowed out because of the lasting image of protester Liz Nichols ingesting a mouthful of pepper spray that Thursday, courtesy of Sergeant Jeff McDaniel.
But while those things are lousy and demand accountability—and while they did stagger Reese like a punch to the mouth, forcing him to issue an apology—they played only a tangential role in his decision.
What really tipped Reese out? Time.
Occupy duty cut deeply into the few after-work hours Reese normally would have had to woo donors. Already facing a thin margin, by declaring interest months after Eileen Brady, Charlie Hales, and Jefferson Smith, Reese needed to make a splash before the holidays so he could roll as a full-time candidate come January. Indisputable gossip says Reese was courting political consultant Mark Wiener, and was close to bringing him on board, even with the rape gaffe.
Occupy also left him with scant time to tie up loose ends. The bureau faces budget cuts—maybe deep enough to force layoffs, kill a planned training facility, and starve Reese's cherished social services programs. Also, the feds' use-of-force probe is unfinished, and high-profile discipline cases await Reese's mark.
Reese could have left those things to a successor, but city hall had yet to settle on an obvious consensus choice. Reese apparently shared that sentiment. And now he's making many of his officers happy by staying.
I'm still waiting to see who did give him money in the short window he was taking it. And will they still be there for him in 2016?