Thursday, May 20, 2004
Last March, the political consultants around Portland, Oregon were skeptical. They said Tom Potter, a former police chief running for mayor, didn't stand a chance against local lawyer and City Commissioner Jim Francesconi in the May primary. Why? Because Francesconi was on pace to amass a record-shattering campaign warchest of $1 million, while Tom Potter was raising funds only in contributions of $25 or less.
As reported by Henry Stern in The Oregonian, on Tuesday, 41% of the folks in Portland voted for Potter, while 37% voted for Francesconi, triggering a runoff between the two men in November.
What happened? Potter must have changed his tune, right? Started to accept bigger contributions, talk to bigger wallets, you know, play the game? Nope. He stuck to his guns, raising around $63,000 for the election in the end, all in small donations.
Well, some scandal must have cost Francesconi at the last minute then. Nope. The local pol did receive a few contributions in the thousands of dollars from folks with business before the City Council, but nothing illegal, nothing 'wrong'. Just business as usual. (See here for Derek's March post on the race.)
And yet Potter won. I guess one of the things about their candidates that matters to folks in Portland is where they get their money.
Well, those same people that said Tom Potter didn't stand a chance will probably also tell you that small contribution limits don't work. You just can't get out your message, they'll say. You just gotta have big money for the system to work. Uh-huh.
Tell that to the folks in Portland.
Tell that to Tom Potter.