Ted Wheeler wants to talk roads. As the state treasurer mounts a campaign for Portland mayor, he's repeatedly taken Mayor Charlie Hales to task for a halting and confused efforts to secure millions for city streets last year.

One person he's apparently convinced: One of the single largest enemies to any "street fee" proposal that's cropped up in the last decade or so. Petroleum industry lobbyist Paul Romain just gave Wheeler $1,000.

It's an interesting donation, given Wheeler's promise to take care of Portland's "rotting" roads once he's in office—and his announcement he favors a gas tax in order to do so. Wheeler talks about how people would be willing to pass a new revenue mechanism if the city would just level with them.

“The first thing the mayor said is, ‘Whatever we do we’re going to make sure the taxpayers of this city don’t have a say,’” he told the Mercury a day before formally announcing his candidacy. “What that tells the citizens is ‘City hall thinks we’re stupid.’”

Romain has proven a consistent thorn in transportation funding efforts.

When Sam Adams wanted to raise millions for roads with his "safe, sound, and green" proposal back in 2008, Romain's promise to put that effort on the ballot, on behalf of his clients at the Oregon Petroleum Association, killed the whole thing. Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick came up against the same intransigence (though their effort had other problems). Most recently, Romain has vowed to kill any statewide gas tax effort, if the legislature doesn't repeal Oregon's clean fuel standards law, telling the Oregonian: "Nobody is getting a transportation package. We're serious about that."

And yet Romain supports Wheeler, who supports a city transportation package. Why? He got back to us quickly.

"It’s the process that we go through to determine what is necessary for transportation and what is currently available that makes me a Wheeler supporter," Romain wrote in an email. "We have said consistently that you first need to see if you are spending your existing funds appropriately before you look for other sources of money. If there still is a need for additional funds after you look at your current spending, then you can work with people to come up with a fair way to raise it."

The Mercury looked at where the Portland Bureau of Transportation gets its money, and where it goes, in a feature story last year.

Wheeler's campaign hasn't commented substantively just yet, but promises to get back to us.

Update, 2:55 pm: After taking a few hours to think about it, Wheeler campaign manager Jake Weigler got back to us. The upshot: Wheeler will take the compliment (and money).

"Even though we may disagree on a gas tax, Romain supports clear leadership to restore public confidence in how our transportation dollars are spent," Weigler wrote.