Poll: Admitted Antifa Candidate Holds Double-Digit Lead over Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler reacts after being exposed to tear gas fired by federal officers while attending a protest against police brutality and racial injustice in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 22, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. State and city elected officials have called for the …
Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Sarah Iannarone, a self-described Antifa follower, is ahead in her bid to unseat Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler in a poll of likely voters.

The poll, conducted for the Portland Business Alliance, showed Lannarone leading with 41 percent to Wheeler’s 30 percent. The remaining 29 percent is split between those who want to write in a candidate (16 percent) and undecided likely voters (13 percent).

Willamette Week reported on the poll, which has a plus or minus four percentage points margin of error:

The results are somewhat surprising given that Iannarone finished more than 20 points behind the mayor in the primary, in which Wheeler nearly received the 50 percent-plus one of votes required to avert a runoff.

At the same time, Wheeler has faced intense criticism throughout the summer for his handling of protests and policing. And another recent poll, conducted on behalf of a City Hall police accountability measure, had Wheeler at 26% favorability, the Oregonian reported.

The DHM phone survey, conducted from Sept. 17 to 22, also found that all the city and county measures presented to Portland voters are likely to pass. These include tax measures to build new libraries, maintain parks and renovate school buildings, as well as fund tuition-free preschool.

The Willamette Week report said that the Wheeler campaign believes internal polls that show he will win.

Danny O-Halloran, Wheeler’s campaign spokesman, said:

Our internal polling shows that we’re in position to win and that we have a clear path to victory. Most voters are just tuning in to this race, and that’s why such a large number of respondents in this poll are undecided. We are confident that once voters have the opportunity to get to know both candidates, these numbers move decisively in Ted’s direction.

“Iannarone tweeted the story, and says she now expects ‘opponents of progress to do everything they can to try and block this historic grassroots campaign,’” Willamette Week reported.

Wheeler’s optimism seems counterintuitive given that the city has been under violent siege by Back Lives Matter and Antifa activists nightly, dating back to June.

Still, the Oregonian recently endorsed Wheeler in a commentary titled: Editorial endorsements 2020: Portland’s best choice for mayor is still Ted Wheeler.

Oregon Live, the Oregonian’s online edition, noted that before the riots, Wheeler “was the picture of effective leadership,” and that includes how he handled the coronavirus in his city:

Since then, however, it’s been a different story. Nightly protests sparked by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd last May have shown Wheeler at his worst – uncertain and unengaged. Buffeted between Portlanders angry over officers’ treatment of protesters and Portlanders angry over protests that turn destructive, Wheeler never decided who he was trying to please, increasing frustration on all sides. Dissatisfaction appears to extend to police officers as well; shortly after Wheeler announced a ban on officers’ use of tear gas, the police bureau, which reports to him, issued a press release defending the tactic.

That’s the Wheeler who is now at risk of losing the November election to Sarah Iannarone, a progressive community activist and former Portland State University administrator who’s never held elected office. Iannarone, who has called for defunding police by $50 million, is proposing an expansive agenda that aims to move Portland city government sharply to the left. While some proposals dovetail with actions the city has already taken, she also supports more controversial ideas including creating a publicly-owned municipal bank, opening city ballots to residents regardless of citizenship, and one proposal sure to rile many Portland homeowners – removing parking along streets to make way for more trees. And while she promotes her ability to bring Portlanders together, some of her statements and messages on social media are strikingly cutting, vilifying people and organizations in the community with whom she disagrees.

As frustrated as Portlanders may be over Wheeler’s failures, they should resist the impulse to vote him out. Wheeler, 58, is still the more qualified candidate for the job of leading the city through our unprecedented turmoil. His understanding of what businesses need to thrive is critical to helping entrepreneurs and companies – and ultimately Portland – make it through the pandemic. He has proven his ability to develop smart solutions for entrenched problems in state and local government.And while he must initiate community-wide discussions about the future of policing, his desire to make strategic changes rather than haphazardly defunding them matches the priorities of many Portlanders who want both police accountability and reliable public safety.

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