How embarrassing.

When he ran for Clackamas County Chair, Commissioner Paul Savas waffled on the Portland-to-Milwaukie Light Rail Project by defending only a public vote on the financing in his Voters Pamphlet page, rather than opposing the project.

But after finishing in third place, Savas unexpectedly had to choose Tuesday between publicly supporting and opposing the county portion of the project.

Savas was invited to Tuesday's signing ceremony for the federal Full Funding Grant Agreement. To get there, he had to walk past a group of Clackamas County pickets that included former Wilsonville Mayor John Ludlow, who finished first in the race for commission chair. When Ludlow invited Savas to join him on the picket line, Savas demurred and kept walking.

Campaign spending keeps rising

As expected, the most recent campaign filings show the major candidates in the contested City Council races increased their spending as the election approached.

As of Monday, businesswoman Eileen Brady reported raising more than $1.3 million in cash and in-kind contributions in her losing campaign for Portland mayor. She listed $250,000 in outstanding loans and a deficit of more than $213,000. That compared to more than $835,000 in contributions reported by first-place finisher Charlie Hales. The former city commissioner listed $125,000 in outstanding loans and a deficit of over $96,000. State Rep. Jefferson Smith, who finished in second place to earn a spot in a runoff with Hales, reported raising more than $588,000. He reported $6,000 in loans and a surplus of more than $46,000.

In the race for City Council Position 1, Commissioner Amanda Frtiz reported raising more than $227,000, including donations of more than $134,000 from herself for TV ads. She had $50,000 in loans and a deficit of more than $30,000. State Rep. Mary Nolan, who finished slightly behind Fritz but forced a runoff election, reported raising more than $338,000. She had no loans and a deficit of slightly more than $386.

General election whole new ballgame

Jefferson Smith is undoubtedly pleased with his second-place finish and how the November runoff election could shape up. With about 33 percent of the primary vote, Smith finished more than 10 points ahead of Brady, despite raising about half as much in cash and in-kind contributions. Smith also finished within 5 points of Hales, who outraised him by almost $250,000.

The big question is who will vote in the November election. Only 38.8 percent of Multnomah County voters returned their primary ballots, a relatively low rate that most commentators blamed on the lack of contested presidential primary races. But the general election contest between President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney would be very contested and include the kind of Democratic fundraising and turnout efforts, including among young voters, that could benefit Smith more than Hales in November.

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