FORMER MAYOR Tom Potter found an unusual way to proclaim his support for the Sam Adams recall campaign last weekend: via Facebook status update. On Saturday, July 11, the 68-year-old Potter became the first politician to publicly join the recall campaign, posting to his Facebook, "Good government doesn't happen automatically, it requires an involved electorate. Get involved and recall Sam Adams!"
The announcement (and its medium) was a surprise to many, including recall campaign chief Jasun Wurster, who says his group has not targeted high-profile Portlanders for support.
Potter did not return requests for comment, but he and Adams shared tense moments during his last months in office, with Potter endorsing Sho Dozono over Adams in the 2008 mayoral election.
"They had a difficult relationship because they both have really strong personalities and both truly believe they are right," says local politico Norm Costa. "I didn't know if Tom was going to stick his neck out."
Potter's support of the recall could lend legitimacy to a campaign whose most prominent backers up until now have been right-wing radio hosts like Victoria Taft.
Potter's wife, Karin Hansen, got involved last week when she became one of 700 people to sign up as a volunteer recall petitioner. The recall campaign has until October 5 to collect just over 32,000 valid signatures demanding a special election to recall Sam Adams.
"The way we will win this campaign is for 2,000 people to follow Potter's lead and start collecting signatures," says Wurster, who trained 100 signature gatherers at recall potlucks last week.
The training sessions primarily focused on two subjects: how to obtain legitimate signatures, and reinforcing Wurster's notion that the recall isn't about sexual orientation.
When asked what to do about people who disapprove of Adams' sexual orientation, Wurster responded, "We don't need their signatures. We don't want them."
Echoing the views of many at the potluck, volunteer Greg Halvorson cited Adams' deceit as the root of the recall. "He conducted an elaborate cover-up, and he played the homophobe card," Halvorson said. "This is about honesty and integrity in government."
Another hot topic was several city employees' fears of potential retribution if they were involved in the recall campaign. The training session noted that city employees cannot solicit signatures on city property or while on the clock. Their solution? Take a coffee break.
Mayor Adams' office declined comment on the recall or former Mayor Potter's stance.