The changing face of Jim Francesconi

Since his embarrassing and costly defeat in the primaryelection, City Commissioner and mayoral candidate Jim Francesconihas transformed his campaign image in an attempt to sway voters whomay view him as the big business, big money candidate. Many of hiscritics have labeled this move mere pandering to certain segmentsof the voting public and emblematic, if elected, of a possibleinconsistency in City Hall.

After a short vacation following the primaries, Francesconialtered the face of his campaign drastically, replacing much of hiscampaign staff and advisors and abandoning the aggressive fundingapproach he had been using.

Francesconi said he now regards his $1 million campaign-fundinggoal in the primaries as a mistake.

“It became a campaign about money,” Francesconi said. “Iprobably should’ve stopped raising money sooner.”

With about $800,000 in campaign contributions and without acontribution limit, Francesconi raised roughly ten times that ofhis opponent, Tom Potter, who had a $25 cap on donations.

Though Francesconi holds that this campaign is lessfunding-focused, he has yet to set a contribution limit.

“We’ve put a kind of informal cap,” Francesconi said.

Critics of Francesconi as well as members of Potter’s campaignstaff remain skeptical.

“I think the process speaks a lot,” a Potter spokesperson said.”If the process is inconsistent then what’s the process going to belike in City Hall?”

In May, Potter astonished many Portlanders when he came outfirst in the primary with 42 percent of the vote. Francesconi hadonly 35 percent of the vote.

Francesconi said he’s now running a more grassroots campaign,with an added emphasis on contrasting he and Potter, something hesays will be advantageous to him in this election.

John Doussard, Potter’s media coordinator, said he is skepticalof the new image.

“Jim said after the primary that he was running a grassrootscampaign – although he has still spent tens of thousands of dollarson often misleading radio ads, which prompted the Police Union torescind its endorsement and the Oregonian to run an editorialentitled ‘Francesconi, Turn In Your Shovel,'” Doussard said.

While Potter preferred to speak mostly of his own campaign, hedid say at a forum at PSU that he thought grassroots campaigningwas a more effective method in Portland.

“If that’s what he’s doing, I think that’s what works inPortland,” Potter said.

Francesconi criticized Potter for being non-specific about hisplans for the city and for changing his mind on issues to pleasevoters.

“He’s a good politician,” Francesconi said, “He says what peoplewant to hear.”

Though Potter was not available to respond before press time,Doussard staunchly denied this claim.

“Jim knows that’s not true. Jim marched against the war in Iraqand then 5 days later refused to vote for a resolution condemningthe war. He proudly boasted in the media that it only took him 36hours to change his position on gay marriage – against it, then forit,” Doussard said. “He said he was against public ownership ofutilities like PGE and now is for it. It’s hard for somepoliticians to stick with what they believe in their hearts, andthey’re confused when they meet someone who knows what he standsfor.”