Sources Say

One of the best parts about the race for city Commissioner Erik Sten's seat was that, for a time, the two leading candidates were thought to be Brendan Finn and Nick Fish, allowing insiders to dub it, tongue-in-cheek, the 'Fish-Finn race.'

Sten's chief of staff, Jim Middaugh, has since dived into the race, adding another potential top challenger. Since Middaugh previously headed the city's endangered-salmon recovery program, the candidate pool remains a fishy stew.

As usual, Randy's no easy call

Middaugh seems most likely to win the support of the electoral machine built by Sten and political consultant Mark Wiener - which also backs city Commissioner Sam Adams' bid for mayor.

That makes Commissioner Randy Leonard's position all the more interesting. Though a strong ally of Sten and Adams, and a client of Wiener, Leonard is supporting Fish, considered the front-runner to succeed Sten.

This despite the fact that Fish first ran against Leonard and then, four years ago, against Adams, and was defeated with the help of hardball campaign tactics engineered by Sten supporters.

This history is why people were not surprised that Adams recently explored pushing back the election for Sten's successor, which would have allowed front-runner Fish's opponents more time to catch up.

Leonard, however, single-handedly beat back Adams' idea, thus helping Fish.

According to Leonard, there's no mystery or tactics behind his support of Fish. 'I look at people based on who they are,' he said.

Gordly does the party dance

State Sen. Avel Gordly, the lone independent in the Oregon Legislature, is changing her party registration again.

The Portland lawmaker, who went independent in 2006 to protest partisan bickering in Salem, said she'll switch back to being a Democrat so she can vote for Barack Obama in Oregon's May primary. Then she plans to change back again to an independent.

Gordly said she made a similar change to the Democrats years earlier, so she could vote for Jesse Jackson for president.

Commish out of the loop

How obscure is the Westside Study Group, the city-county advisory committee that is considering the future of three downtown urban renewal areas?

Consider the experience of one of its members - Commissioner Dan Saltzman - at the group's meeting last Tuesday. After the name was mentioned several times, Saltzman asked, 'What's the Westside Study Group?'

Following an awkward silence, a Portland Development Commission employee staffing the group said, 'You are.'

You can't blame Saltzman for being confused. For reasons that only make sense to a bureaucrat, the group also is called the Urban Renewal Advisory Committee.

Whatever it's called, its recommendations about how much longer to maintain the areas and where to spend its remaining renewal funds are expected to go to the council in March.

- Tribune staff

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