Since state Rep. Jefferson Smith, D-Portland, announced for Portland mayor in mid-September, most of the press coverage has focused on his driving and voting record. Overlooked is the fact that the Southeast Democrat is a pretty good fundraiser, pulling in more than $36,000 in cash contributions in just two weeks, according to the most recent campaign filings.

Some of the largest contributions came from outside Oregon, including $1,000 each from Genentech Vice President Evan Morris of Washington, D.C., New York investor David Calone and California attorney James Christian.

Despite the fast start, Smith trails the two other major candidates for mayor. New Seasons co-founder Eileen Brady has raised more than $185,000 in cash contributions. Former City Commissioner Charlie Hales has brought in more than $172,000.

Still absent are big contributions from labor, environmental or human rights organizations to any candidate.

Laboring for endorsements

Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian scored two big victories over state Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, in the race for union endorsements in the 1st Congressional District Democratic primary election. First, the Oregon AFL-CIO did not endorse any candidate in the race during its statewide convention last week. That was a blow to Witt, who had been the organization's secretary-treasurer for 14 years.

Then Avakian won the endorsement of the Oregon Education Association, the statewide teachers' union that has the potential to be the largest labor donor in the race. The OEA endorsed Avakian even though it gave Witt a 'B' on its report card for the 2011 Oregon Legislature.

State Sen. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Beaverton, never stood a chance to win either endorsement. Unlike Avakian and Witt, she did not come out against the free-trade pacts opposed by the AFL-CIO at the convention, and the OEA only gave her a 'C' for last session's votes.

Criminal intrigue at Wordstock

Those attending Wordstock this weekend can learn about one of the most important and colorful criminal episodes in Portland's history: the investigation of Jose 'Pepe' Chavez, a big-time cocaine dealer tied to the forced resignation of former Police Chief Penny Harrington.

During the investigation, Penny's husband, Gary, a former Portland police officer, told restaurant owner Bobby Lee that Lee was also a target of the probe. News of the tip-off forced Mayor Bud Clark to appoint a blue-ribbon commission to review Harrington's performance as chief. It issued a scathing report on her management style, prompting Clark to pressure her to step down.

Former Portland police Sgt. Ray Tercek is writing a detailed two-part history of the investigation. The first part, 'The Investigation of Pepe Chavez, et al,' will be for sale at the event. Tercek will sign copies from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, in the Willamette Writers booth at the Oregon Convention Center.

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