Mayor Charlie Hales missed his chance to influence the Portland mayor’s race before the primary election.

Hales did not endorse any of the candidates running to succeed him before the May 17 primary. Political veterans assumed he would not back State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, whose entry into the race is presumed to have forced him to drop out last year.

The question, then, was whether Hales would back Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey or PSU urban researcher and cafe owner Sarah Iannarone, who works with Hales’ wife, Nancy.

Sources asked Hales if he was going to endorse anyone for mayor at the May 2 press conference where he unveiled his budget for the next fiscal year. “Probably in the runoff,” he responded.

But that possibility evaporated two weeks later, when Wheeler won the race outright with 55 percent of the vote. It’s unlikely that Hales could have forced Wheeler into a runoff, and thus below 50 percent of the vote, by endorsing either Bailey or Iannarone, but we’ll never know.

The case against contribution limits

Updated campaign finance reports confirm the enormous fundraising advantage Wheeler had over his two closest opponents.

As of May 18, the state treasurer reported raising over $707,000 in cash and in-kind contributions. That compares to a little more than $185,000 for Bailey, who limited his contributions to $250, and about $43,000 for Iannarone.

Wheeler’s most recent major contributions include $2,500 from sports executive David Kahn, $1,000 from Meriweather Group CEO/Founder David Howitt, and $1,000 from the Singer Family LLC. The campaign reports around $72,000 in the bank but owes about $68,000 in accounts payable and $50,000 in outstanding loans.

Bailey finished the race with a nearly $12,000 deficit. Among other things, he owes $5,600 to his campaign consultant and media agency. And although Iannarone wrote off a $4,500 personal loan to her campaign, she still owes around $4,000.

Competing against cartoon characters

The winner of the Independent Party primary race for Oregon governor may not be known for weeks. Although industrial hemp farmer Cliff Thompson received the most votes, they are less than the number of write-in votes, which must now be hand-tallied by all county elections offices.

Thompson is most likely the winner, with 9,400 votes compared to the 10,486 write-in votes that will probably be split between various real people and cartoon characters. In second place is certified nurse assistant Patrick Barney with 6,555 votes.

Of course, whoever wins has no chance against Democratic nominee Kate Brown or Republican nominee Bud Pierce, anyway. Both are already running hard to win the general election.

Brown is currently reporting over $1.2 million in her campaign account. She’s raised over $75,000 since the primary election, $50,000 from the Oregon Education Association, the statewide teachers union. And Pierce was willing to spend over $1 million of his own money to win the nomination.