PORTLAND — Charlie Hales completed a political comeback Tuesday, easily defeating Jefferson Smith in the race for Portland mayor.
The 56-year-old Hales spent 10 years as city commissioner before quitting in 2002. He launched a comeback when current Mayor Sam Adams decided not to seek a second term.
Hales, who had more than 60 percent of the vote, said his victory was “exhilarating and intimidating at the same time.”
Hales and Smith were locked in a tight race until an October revelation that Smith struck a woman at a college party near the University of Oregon in 1993. His campaign had already been dogged by news that he was ejected from a sports league for rough play and his driver’s license was suspended seven times.
Hales had his own share of unflattering articles.
He was criticized for secretly recording an endorsement interview and submitting a letter to the editor that included passages lifted from an article in The Oregonian newspaper. He also broke a campaign pledge not to accept contributions above $600.
Though the race featured many missteps, neither candidate went negative in his television advertisements or during the debates.
Hales portrayed himself as the more politically experienced candidate, one who wouldn’t need on-the-job training to get things accomplished in City Hall.
He has promised goals both large, such as creating jobs and changing the culture of the police department, and small, such as filling potholes.
Smith, 39, was elected to the state Legislature in 2008 after creating The Bus Project, a nonprofit aimed at getting young people interested in politics. He promised to help schools and improve the neighborhoods in east Portland.
Portland made history four years ago when it became the largest city in the United States to elect an openly gay mayor. But the high expectations for Adams crumbled in his first week in office when he acknowledged lying during the campaign about his relationship with teenager Beau Breedlove.
Efforts to recall Adams went nowhere and he completed his four years without further scandal. He enjoyed some success and was praised for his handling of the Occupy Portland demonstrations. He also had a recurring role on the television series “Portlandia.”
Hales and Adams have scheduled a meeting for Wednesday to discuss the transition.