Centrist Candidate Nathan Vasquez Ousts Progressive DA in Portland

Nathan Vasquez, a centrist and seasoned prosecutor, has defeated incumbent progressive District Attorney Mike Schmidt in Multnomah County, Oregon, which includes Portland. This election result highlights a significant shift in local politics as voters voice their concerns about crime and public safety.

Vasquez’s Campaign and Victory

Vasquez ran on a platform emphasizing a tough stance on crime, earning endorsements from several police organizations. He won the nonpartisan primary election by securing more than 50% of the vote, surpassing Schmidt, his sole opponent. Following the election, Schmidt conceded, and Vasquez expressed his gratitude to voters, promising to steer the county in a “new and safer direction.”

Public Sentiment and the Political Landscape

Vasquez’s win mirrors a broader trend where progressive district attorneys in liberal areas like the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have faced challenges. Increasing frustration over public safety and homelessness has led voters to favor candidates who advocate for stricter crime policies.

Vasquez’s Vision for the DA’s Office

In his post-election remarks, Vasquez committed to cracking down on open-air drug dealing and use, connecting people to treatment, rebuilding trust between the DA’s office and the community, and prioritizing victims. This approach contrasts with Schmidt’s policies, indicating a shift towards stricter law enforcement.

Schmidt’s Term and Policies

Schmidt, elected in 2020 during a period of social justice protests, focused on criminal justice reform. He introduced initiatives to review wrongful convictions, emphasize violent crime prosecutions, and lessen charges for low-level offenses. However, some of his decisions, like not prosecuting non-violent protesters and supporting the decriminalization of small amounts of drugs, were controversial.

Vasquez’s Background and Experience

With over 20 years as a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office, Vasquez brings significant legal experience to his new role. His career has shown a dedication to law enforcement and public safety, making him a proponent of a more traditional prosecutorial approach.


Nathan Vasquez’s election as District Attorney marks a critical change for Multnomah County. As he steps into office, Vasquez’s focus on reducing crime and enhancing community safety reflects a broader shift in voter priorities, signaling a new era for the region’s criminal justice system.

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