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Jefferson Smith says hell run for Portland mayor

Pollster says race likely to go into the general election
by: Tribune File Photo State Rep. Jefferson Smith of Southeast Portland said Tuesday he plans to run for the Portland mayor’s job.

In a move that will shake up the already volatile Portland mayor's race, state Rep. Jefferson Smith jumped into the race Tuesday.

'We can have big vision and work in small and real ways. We can be prosperous, sustainable and fair,' Smith wrote in an e-mail to supporters. 'I am running for mayor because I believe Portland can be the city it aspires to be.'

Smith is a Democrat representing House District 47, which is east of Interstate 205 and south of the Columbia River to Southeast Division Street. Because Smith cannot run for mayor and re-election to his House seat at the same time, it must now be considered an open seat.

Smith, a lawyer by training, is a community activist who helped found the Oregon Bus Project, a nonprofit organization that encourages people to register and vote. The work has given him more grassroots organizing experience than either of the two major candidates in the mayor's race.

At the very least, Smith's entry increases the chances the race will not be decided in the 2012 primary election. Instead, no candidate will likely receive more than 50 percent of the vote now, resulting in a run-off between the top two candidates in the general election, according to pollster Tim Hibbitts.

'With three major candidates in the race now, it highly unlikely it will be decided in the primary election. Although it was always possible the race could go into the general election, it's much more likely now,' says Hibbitts, founding partner of Davis, Hibbitts and Midghall Inc.

The two other major candidates already in the race are New Season co-founder Eileen Brady and former Commissioner Charlie Hales. Community college student Max Brumm is also running for mayor.

Mayor Sam Adams is not running for re-election.

Smith trails both Brady and Hales in fundraising, however. He only has about $5,000 in cash on hand. Brady has so far raised nearly $177,000, while Hales has reported approximately $155,000 in contributions.

'The way we campaign sets the stage for how we govern. Our campaign shouldn't just be a marketing effort to gain power; campaigns should be conversations about where we want to go as a city and how we're going to get there,' said in his announcement.

Smith succeeded Jeff Merkley in the Oregon House in 2008. He and his wife Katy live in the Southeast Portland district.