Hope for Portland

As the regular readers of the Oregon Catalyst know, I’m generally a fan of cuts to government spending, but the proposed $18 million ax to the Portland Police Bureau budget seemed foolishly ill-advised, given the overtime officers have been working in recent months dealing with day upon day of civil unrest and the National Guard having to walk post in the city’s streets. The proposal was defeated yesterday in a 3-2 vote with Chloe Eudaly in the minority, perhaps her last significant vote.

On Tuesday she lost her seat to Mingus Mapps. Eudaly was the radicals’ candidate. Mapps is a moderate, and he trounced her by 13% points. I had an opportunity to meet him at a Saturnalia party last year, an annual get-together hosted by Robert McCullough in the Eastmoreland neighborhood near Reed College. I was impressed. Watch this guy; he has promise.

A city government with Ted Wheeler as mayor will be a lot better than one with Sarah Iannarone. Portland has a weak mayoral structure, an outdated small-town constitution, maybe suitable for a city of 60,000 but inefficient for a city of 653,115, a governing structure that has scared away Wheeler’s three immediate predecessors from even running for reelection. With chic activism losing its glamor and giving way to a city ready to clean up the mess, Portland might be turning a page for a brighter future. There are institutional limits to what a Portland mayor can do, but Iannorone would have worked in the other direction.

In a year with a high turnout of progressive voters, progressives lost some high profile races this week. Even if there are not a lot of conservatives in the City of Roses, it’s important to remember that there aren’t that many actual socialists either, setting popular hyperbole aside. Portland, like many blue-state cities, has an upper class that is too moderate for a revolution and yet too educated to embrace the MAGA message. The Portland metro area’s middle class tends to be on a similar wavelength.

Republicans can win over the Nike and Intel crowd with moderation when our brand isn’t being defined by late-night retweets of QAnon folklore or white supremacist imagery from the residence of the White House. Take the outcome of this election in stride. There may be hope for an ORP comeback if we can broaden our tent enough to let Portland-area moderates in.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is also the author of We were winning when I was there.