Portland Mayor Charlie Hales drops re-election campaign


SALEM — Portland Mayor Charlie Hales is dropping his bid for re-election, saying Monday that he can't fully devote himself to both a campaign and his job as mayor.

The announcement was a surprising reversal for the first-term Democrat, who said in the spring that he would seek another four years in office. He had faced a spirited campaign against state Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who challenged him from the left ahead of the May primary election.

“When confronted with the choice between giving my full effort to the job of being mayor and spending that energy on a long and consuming re-election campaign, it's an easy choice,” Hales said in a statement.

Big challenges demand his full attention, he said, including population growth and gang violence. Portland is projected to add 200,000 residents over the next 20 years. Gang violence has resulted in 10 deaths and 45 injuries so far this year, he said.

Hales touted efforts to tackle homelessness and rising housing costs, raise the minimum wage for city workers and overcome a severe budget deficit.

Before running for mayor, Hales worked for a transit consulting company. He served on the City Council in the 1990s and worked as a lobbyist for homebuilders.

Hales faced a difficult race against Wheeler, who has charged that Hales failed to advance the city's progressive priorities. Earlier this month, Wheeler received endorsements from Portland's three previous mayors.

Hales did not directly address Wheeler in his statement but said he announced his decision early to give other candidates plenty of time to jump into the race.

“I hope and expect that several qualified candidates will seek the office of mayor,” he said. “There are some dynamic new leaders in our community, and I'm excited to see who steps up.”

Wheeler said he respected Hales’ decision.

“This race is not about the personalities involved,” Wheeler said. “It is about finding solutions for the real issues facing our city.”


In an earlier version of this story, AP said the primary election would be in March. The story has been corrected to say the election will be in May.

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