Hardesty campaign called accusation ‘ridiculous’

PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — The campaign for City Council candidate Rene Gonzalez is accusing incumbent Jo Ann Hardesty of inciting the most recent vandalism to its downtown campaign headquarters.

Windows of the headquarters were shattered late Oct. 29. The Gonzalez campaign complains it followed a Hardesty campaign mailing falsely accusing Gonzalez of being a right wing Republican.

“Last night we got a call from the police informing us they had picked up ‘chatter’ indicating a group gathered for a ‘direct action protest’ had identified our office as a target. When I arrived this morning at 7 a.m. our doors and windows had been smashed in, with a large rock lying in our volunteer seating area and shattered glass everywhere,” Gonzalez campaign manger Shah Smith said after the headquarters was attacked.

Hardesty campaign manager Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons called the accusation “ridiculous.”

Although City Council seats are nonpartisan, the Hardesty campaign recently sent out a mass mailer identifying her as “True Blue” — code for Democrat — and strongly suggesting Gonzalez is a Republican with far right ties, even though he is a registered Democrat.

Gonzalez strongly denies the accusations, saying he is a Democrat who is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.

The Gonzalez campaign said such false accusations are encouraging violence again their workers.

Jo Ann Hardesty, Rene Gonzalez in photos from their campaign websites, October 2022
Jo Ann Hardesty, Rene Gonzalez in photos from their campaign websites, October 2022

“This follows a week of Commissioner Hardesty repeating and amplifying demonstrably false claims about Rene and our campaign,” Smith said in an email calling on Hardesty to cease and desist from such claims.

The four-page Hardesty mailer features a blue tinted photo of Hardesty and a red tinted photo of Gonzalez. The text says Gonzalez “surrounds himself with right wing Republicans” and “His team is overrun with Republican consultants whose clients include: Oregon Right to Life PAC, Ted Cruz and Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

The mailing comes as Hardesty is badly trailing Gonzalez in the only independent poll reported in the race so far. Gonzalez is ahead of Hardesty by a margin of 50% to 26% in a DHM Research poll commissioned and published by The Oregonian/OregonLive on Oct. 5.

Whoever receives more than 50% of the vote in the Nov. 8 election will win.

Hardesty was asked about the mailer during the KOIN 6 News debate with Hardesty and Gonzalez on Thursday, Oct. 27. Portland Tribune reporter Jim Redden pointed out that the City Council is nonpartisan and Gonzalez is a Democrat.

In response, Hardesty said, “The reason you have that flier, and I got it today as well, is my opponent has only worked with Republican folks, all his staff are Republican folks, they’ve only worked for other Republican people who have been elected. So if you walk like a duck talk like a duck, chances are it’s a duck.”

The day after the debate, the Portland Tribune asked the Hardesty campaign to identify the Republican or conservative consultants working on the Gonzalez campaign. The campaign responded by identifying the Eagle Mailing Service, a printer and direct mail service in Salem, and Anedot Inc., a national payment processor that says it serves “churches, campaigns, schools, and other nonprofits.”

The Hardesty campaign also provided a link to a website that claimed Gonzalez’s campaign manager, Shah Smith, is a Republican.

The Gonzalez campaign denies the accusations that its campaign consultants are Republican or conservative. The campaign says its consultants are Cerillion N4 Partners and Lake Research Partners.

CN4 describes itself as “a political consulting and campaign media strategy firm that specializes in helping Democratic candidates, progressive organizations, and labor unions win.” The Gonzalez campaign has paid it $438,531.29 to date.

LRP describes itself as the most consistently accurate — and consistently progressive — Democratic research firm in the country. The Gonzalez campaign has paid it $28,031 to date.

The campaign describes Eagle Mailing Service and Anedot Inc. as vendors that provide specific but limited services.

Smith said he is a Democrat.

PPB officials told KOIN 6 News the damage to the building with the Gonzalez headquarters is about $8000. There are no suspects and no confirmed motive, but investigators said they “are investigating the possibility of a connection between the “direct action” event and the campaign office vandalism.”

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