Before a big crowd, Eileen Brady launches her campaign for Mayor

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Thursday was the first day that candidates could formally file the paperwork to become candidates for office in the May primary.

In a sunny downtown plaza, before at least 150 supporters, Eileen Brady kicked off her campaign for mayor. Others will do the news coverage (and you can read her speech here), but I've got a couple of thoughts.

As the Portland Mercury noted, "the kickoff had everything a political event in Portland needs: The candidate, a guy in a cowboy hat, and a lone person protesting 'blatantly capitalistic candidates'".

The guy in the cowboy hat was Doc Hatfield, one of the founders of the Oregon Country Beef co-op. Speaking to the crowd, he noted that it might be the first time an Eastern Oregon cattle rancher has ever introduced a candidate for mayor of Portland.

But Hatfield made an important point while eliciting a big laugh: He noted that most cattle ranchers are politically conservative and religious people who don't have much use for Portland's urban liberals. Except that we urbanites are the primary customers for the sort of naturally-raised, locally-sourced, sustaintable beef that they're selling.

The mayor of Portland wears a lot of hats. And one of them is to be the ambassador for our city to the rest of the state (and beyond). If we're going to solve the urban/rural divide in Oregon, which underpins so much of the political conflict we face, we need a mayor that has an intuitive understanding of the economic interconnectedness of Oregon. And based on Doc Hatfield's testimony, Eileen Brady looks to be on target.

Anyway, the formal purpose of the campaign event was to walk down to City Hall and file her paperwork. As former state representative Nick Kahl noted, there are two ways to file for city office in Portland. You can pay a filing fee, or you can collect a hundred signatures from qualified voters. Well, Eileen Brady went well beyond a hundred - turning in over 300 signatures from Portland voters.

There are lots of ways to run and win campaigns. But the way I like doing it - and the way that Eileen Brady is doing it - is to build a huge grassroots campaign that puts regular people at the center of the campaign, rather than big checks from well-connected donors.

We may not have voter-owned elections in Portland anymore (and Eileen and Brian Rohter, her husband, were a big part of the campaign to defend it last year), but the Eileen for Mayor campaign will certainly be owned by the grassroots.

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    Full disclosure: My firm is working with Eileen Brady's campaign for mayor. I speak only for myself.

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    It was a great speech, and it shows the depth and breadth of her ideas. The single protester (from PETA?!) was sort of silly.

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      Tom Potter's under $100 campaign didn't raise enough money to win a normal race; his race was an anomaly in many ways, and the lack of funds to go toe-to-toe with Francesconi was one big reason (IMHO) why he won. Not that I'm a professional political person, in any respect, but I think it's a mistake to use that race as a measuring stick or Platonic form for any other race.

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        Agreed - Potter made his lack of money an asset, which is what candidates try to do with their biggest weakness (e.g. inexperience in public office = not a career politician.)

        I'm not arguing candidates will succeed by following in Potter's footsteps, but rather traditional politics puts money from well-connected donors at the center of campaigns. And the current mayoral campaigns are no exception.

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      Well, I'm not just talking about money. I'm talking about an approach to politics that puts grassroots volunteers at the center, not fundraising.

      And yes, there's going to be plenty of money in this race. That's the nature of campaigns.

      But I think we're going to start comparing the high-dollar/low-dollar structure of the two campaigns' fundraising efforts, I think there's a rather stark difference.

      You said you'd like to see two-thirds of the money coming from under $100 donors. When last reported by the Brady campaign, 60% of their donors had donated under $100. (60% of the donors is a bit different than 60% of the total money, but I think that's mostly a quibble. The point is that lots of small-dollar donors are supporting Eileen Brady.)

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        A quibble? Mathematically, and strategically, it's hardly a quibble.

        For example, one could easily have more than 90% of your donors give less than $100, but have 90% of your funds come from large donors. For example, ten people give $10, and one gives $900. In contrast, you could have eleven people all giving $90.

        Very different scenarios, and no fund raiser I know blurs that distinction.

        It's great Eileen has support from lots of small donors. I expect all the campaigns to develop such support, if they haven't already.

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          Yes, I understand that if Bill Gates walks into a homeless shelter, everyone there is a millionaire on average.

          But that's not what we're talking about here.

          The dollar amounts matter. But so do the number of donors. Lots of small donors demonstrates broader community support.

          Right now, Eileen Brady has the most individual donors of any campaign for mayor -- by a lot.

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        Kari, It's a good point, but this link (60%) doesn't seem to work.

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      I (and the Supreme Court) agree that money=speech. Given that electoral races are increasingly expensive and we have no voter-owned system, grassroots can not be defined by contribution size alone. The tone of a campaign also warrants consideration. The fact that Eileen and her campaign beat the bushes for the over 300 petition signatures (rather than paying $50) she submitted yesterday is a good indicator (at least in my mind) that she is interested in running a grassroots campaign.

      The other indicator I see is that she is asking for endorsements not just from key influencers, but from average citizens. The typical campaign endorsers are courted fairly regularly. But personally, it meant a lot to me that Eileen asked for my endorsement. The same is true for several of my friends who I asked to endorse her. When I explained Eileen's interest in citizen endorsements, the typical response was puzzlement followed by a brief burst of pride.

      I see this as a particularly stark contrast to the invitation I received from Charlie Hales to his campaign launch event. The "hosts" of the event are fairly prominent current & past members of the Parks Board, Parks Foundation Board and PP&R's upper management. I appreciate and commend Charlie Hales' role in the GO Bond that built and remodeled Portland's park infrastructure. That being said, the message I took from his invitation was a focus on Portland's elite and less of your average Portlander (aka the grassroots).

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    I like Eileen’s personal story and her background of experiences. I like her written speech and video. Both have an upbeat, can-do tone. But in neither the video nor the speech does she mention increasing international exports or making Portland more of an international city. The big economic growth opportunities for Portland are abroad. A mayor who can not say that is not worth having.

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      She talked about speaking many languages, which I took as suggesting some sort of internationalization. Also, she's obviously aware of the Mayor's role, as shown by her carefully talking about education. When it comes to international trade, I think the analysis is similar -- the Governor usually heads up international trade missions, and we don't want it to be a city-against-city fight.

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        Yes, Jonathan, on rereading her speech, I see she said she would "take a real leadership role in transforming our school system into one that is .... driven to graduate... bi-lingual global citizens." I like it and think more highly of her. Thanks.

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    Eileen is the complete package. She is authenic, intelligent, crosses her business experience with farm-to-table,understands Oregon's economic development needs, small businesses along with large businesses. We could be looking at a much better future for Portland with her leadership.

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    I am a newcomer to Portland but Eileen Brady sounds like a candidate I can support! And Blue Oregon and it's followers' comments are a good way to find out more about her and Oregon's politics! So thank you all for this fine introduction to Ms. Brady, other candidates and issues! I am encouraged to be the informed, engaged voter that our forward thinking democracy requires.

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    Kari, I appreciate the analysis. Ms. Brady does seem like a refreshing change for Portland politics. The fact that she actually has business experience instead of only working for the Government means a lot. She reminds me of the more centrist candidates that used to be welcome in the Democratic Party.

    Even though I don't live in Portland, what happens there affects the region. It would be nice to be able to travel and say where I am from and not be embarrassed by perceived association with Portland's politicians. Hopefully it will be a fair and fact-based campaign.

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      The fact that she actually has business experience instead of only working for the Government means a lot.

      For the record, so does Charlie Hales. Since leaving office in 2000, he's been working for HDR, an engineering and consulting firm that does - among other things - transportation systems.


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