DA campaign supporters switching camps

Both sides losing and gaining supporters

By Shelby R. King / The Bulletin

Published May 8, 2014 at 12:01AM

When John Hummel announced his candidacy for Deschutes County district attorney in September, he posted a list of local business owners and community leaders online who endorsed him as the better choice over incumbent Patrick Flaherty.

At the top of his list were Bob Eberhard, owner of Eberhard’s Dairy; Bill Smith, president of William Smith Properties; and Todd Taylor, president and CEO of Taylor Northwest.

Taylor and Smith have since changed camps and are now supporting incumbent Patrick Flaherty.

“I have changed my mind,” Taylor said Tuesday. “I was on his list and made a sizable contribution to his campaign. It has nothing to do with John as a person, it is a matter of capability.”

Taylor and Smith, whose businesses are in Bend, both said they have known Hummel a long time and have supported him in the past. They said they endorsed him without researching which candidate would be best for the office. After talking with Flaherty, both decided to endorse him.

“I went for Hummel because I assumed he had the experience, and I didn’t verify it,” Smith said Wednesday. “If John Hummel wins the election, we’re going to have another mess. Just because you’re an attorney doesn’t mean you’re qualified to be district attorney.”

Eberhard did not return repeated calls from The Bulletin, but the lawn in front of Eberhard’s Dairy in Redmond is sporting a large re-elect Flaherty sign.

Hummel said Wednesday he knew Taylor had decided to endorse Flaherty, but said neither Smith nor Eberhard told him they’d changed their minds. He also said neither had asked him to remove their names from his endorsement list on his website.

“We have over 250 endorsements and have received over 300 individual contributions,” Hummel said. “If someone changed their mind, I am disappointed to lose their support but I am proud to be gaining endorsements every week.”

Hummel said Eberhard supported him as an individual, not as a business owner, suggesting that though Eberhard’s Dairy may be supporting Flaherty, that doesn’t necessarily mean Eberhard had switched his endorsement. He also said Flaherty has placed campaign signs on other sites without permission and suggested Eberhard may not have given Flaherty permission to erect the sign.

Flaherty confirmed Wednesday that Eberhard requested the sign be erected in front of the dairy. Flaherty said he’s received several calls and emails from people who originally supported Hummel and since have changed their minds.

Hummel’s campaign manager, Erin Foote Marlowe, said Hummel has been endorsed by several people who originally supported Flaherty but have decided the DA’s office needs a new leader.

“We are seeing the opposite with people who supported Patrick and are now supporting John,” she said. “We are receiving endorsements every week from people saying they’re rethinking their position.”

Hummel said one former Flaherty supporter, Tony Aceti, owner of the Hay Depot in Bend, was a Flaherty supporter but came over to Hummel’s side. Aceti did not return a call for comment.

Ballots for the election were mailed by the clerk’s office May 1. The final day to drop off ballots is Election Day, May 20.

— Reporter: 541-383-0376, sking@bendbulletin.com