I joked on Friday after Portland’s latest nightly travesty that Mayor Ted Wheeler was destined to be challenged at the polls for his response. But, Portland being Portland, it would be a challenge from the left, accusing him of being too pro-cop.
I didn’t realize when I wrote that that it’s already come to pass. He just missed winning a clear majority of the vote in Portland’s May election, finishing with 49 percent of the vote. The second-place finisher was ultra-left Sarah Iannarone, who nabbed a respectable 24 percent in a crowded field. A poll taken in late June found Wheeler and Iannarone effectively tied, with a third of Portland voters undecided. Given that the six weeks since that poll was taken haven’t been a model of tranquility for the city, God only knows how much of an anti-incumbent vote might be out there now. Iannarone could be a legit contender.
The “Antifa mayor,” they call her. She doesn’t seem to mind.
Iannarone has been labeled by some in conservative media as the “Antifa mayor” – a nickname she has embraced during her campaign.
“I am antifa,” she tweeted in September. “I stand proudly beside the good people of this city organizing in countless ways every day to oppose hate in its myriad forms.”
Two months later, she tweeted, “If they’re going to call me ‘Antifa Mayor,’ then I might as well fight fascism.”
That’s cute. See, she’s not Antifa, she’s just anti-fascist, as most Americans are. Or is she? Last year she was quoted in a piece in Playboy about anti-fascism, in which she said, “I feel a responsibility to change the public discourse around antifascism, absolutely. Because this problem exists within the system, it’s important we use radical tactics—though I definitely think electoral politics matter, and that’s why I’m running.”
Radical tactics? She’s asked about that in the clip below and mumbles something about defunding the police. Okay, says the host, but you oppose the attacks on cops that are happening, no? That’s a softball to end all softballs, but Iannarone … won’t give her a straight answer. The host is forced to ask repeatedly until finally the candidate croaks out, “I don’t condone violence,” but keep watching and you’ll also hear her say, “Peaceful protests, in my opinion, might not necessarily be moving the conversation forward.” What does that mean?
Iannarone, I think, would say that she simply means Portland as a community should have been doing more to address the protesters’ concerns before it reached this point. But very clearly, between the wink-wink Antifa nickname she’s embraced, the reference to “radical tactics,” and her apprehension about condemning violence, she’s playing footsie with the lefty droogs who are trying to blind cops by shining lasers in their eyes. She’s not going to full-throatedly endorse them but she’s certainly not going to get indignant about week after week after week of people trying to set police precincts and courthouses on fire. If a right-wing politician skirted around clear condemnation of violence by white nationalists and played rhetorical games about radicalism the way Iannarone did here, liberals would have no difficulty identifying it as a “dog whistle” of approval. We’ll see if Portland voters can manage that when the whistle is coming from the DSA crowd.
Anyway, I hope she wins. Let’s see what happens to a city coping with anarchist violence when there’s a clear sympathizer in charge of city government.