PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Mayor Sam Adams, whose 2008 election victory made Portland the largest city with an openly gay mayor at the time, announced Friday he won't run for a second term.
Adams said in an interview in his office that he decided not to seek re-election because he'd have to campaign and fundraise full time. He also said he wouldn't be able to work on his agenda if he had to start campaigning now.
The announcement comes more than two years after he admitted that he lied during his last campaign about a sexual relationship with a teenager. The 47-year-old mayor then survived calls for his immediate resignation, but the scandal reverberated through his tenure. He blamed personal financial difficulties on the legal bills he ran up as he missed mortgage payments on his home and rental properties.
Adams, who would have faced at least two prominent challengers in a re-election bid, said the prospect of a difficult campaign helped him make a decision.
"To run for mayor would be a tough race," Adams said. "It would require that I spend a lot less time on the issues and challenges Portland is facing, and I'm not just willing to phone it in as mayor."
When asked whether an easier race would have changed his mind, Adams responded, "It might have, but I've got to deal with the situation at hand."
A former city commissioner, Charlie Hales, and a co-founder of the New Seasons grocery stories, Eileen Brady, had announced plans to challenge the mayor.
Hales released a statement less than one hour after Adams' announcement, which he called "a good move for Sam and a fresh start for Portland."
Shortly after taking office in 2009, Adams disclosed that he had been in a sexual relationship with Beau Breedlove, a legislative aide.
The Willamette Week newspaper was prepared to publish evidence of the relationship just before Adams acknowledged it publicly.
Adams was 42 and Breedlove 17 when they met in 2005. Both say their relationship did not become sexual until after Breedlove turned 18. After an investigation, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger said there wasn't credible evidence that Adams had sex with Breedlove before the age of consent.
Adams declined to endorse either of the publicly-announced candidates or those about whom speculation has run rampant.
"I look forward, like any Portlander, to asking them the tough questions I get asked," Adams said Friday. "Whether I'll endorse or not, I don't know."
Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, someone who feuded openly with Adams, is considered a strong contender. A spokesman said Saltzman was on vacation on Friday and could not be reached for comment.
The announcement is another shakeup for the five-member Portland City Council. Commissioner Randy Leonard has already said he will not seek another term.
Adams said he's not yet prepared to talk about his legacy, noting that he still has 18 months in the job.
Unemployment in the Portland, Ore., metro area was about 9 percent in June, down from more than 10 percent a year ago.
"What I am most proud of is the fact that our econ development strategy has yielded 2,000 new jobs, saved another 1,000 jobs in the worst recession since the Great Depression in a city that has been pummeled by the national recession," Adams said. "My admin has shown that we don't simply have to bob along passively in the seas and oceans of the national economy."
Nigel Duara can be reached at www.twitter.com/nigelduara