Road to mayor's office now 'very, very difficult' for Smith - KPTV - FOX 12

Road to mayor's office now 'very, very difficult' for Jefferson Smith

Posted: Updated: Oct 11, 2012 04:25 PM
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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A candidate for mayor of Portland has lost the endorsement of the Portland Police Association and the Portland Firefighters Association.

The organizations announced Thursday they would no longer be endorsing Jefferson Smith for mayor.

Now, FOX 12 political analyst Tim Hibbitts said Smith faces an uphill battle to win the Portland mayor's race.

"It's going to make it very, very difficult for Jefferson Smith to get this turned around," he said. "If he does, it would be one of the greatest comebacks I've ever seen in local politics."

Though they're no longer backing Smith, the police and fire unions did not throw their support behind Smith's opponent Charlie Hales.

"Our members count on us to make recommendations and, at this point in the campaign, we cannot make a strong recommendation for either candidate," according to a statement released by the groups.

Hibbitts said the unions have recognized that the candidate they backed faces a tough path to victory.

"They may have made the determination that, whether they like it or not, Charlie Hales is going to be mayor. Why pour money and time down (what is) kind of a lost cause and make Charlie Hales more angry when he comes in there?" Hibbitts said of the unions' position.

The unions' decision to pull the endorsement from Smith comes after details have emerged about a misdemeanor assault charge against him in 1993 involving a woman.

Smith called a press conference last week to address the situation and said he pushed the woman away to protect himself.

A Eugene police report from that night said he struck her with a closed fist and caused her to get five or six stitches. Smith and the woman settled out of court and the charges were dropped.

Smith said he went to the woman's house last week to address the situation and let her know he would not use her name unless she wanted him to. The woman's lawyer told Fox 12 that Smith violated the court-issued agreement when he did that.

The Hales campaign sent out a statement Thursday saying:

"I think what they have done speaks for itself. The police and fire associations have seen what we've all seen over the past few weeks and were disturbed enough about it to take some action."

A campaign ad for Smith posted to YouTube Thursday includes the police and firefighters association endorsements.

Smith's campaign released a statement in response to the endorsements being pulled, saying:

"Our commitment to necessary support and improvement to smart public safety remains unwavering. We deeply value the work our front-line city workers do and are grateful for the support they've given us. We're obviously disappointed to lose any support, but our strong base of grassroots support will remain our focus during the next 27 days. And we hope the those days will be spent talking about the future of the city."

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