Election 2020

Multnomah County’s Next District Attorney Got a John Legend Bump on Election Eve

The singer and criminal justice reform advocate endorsed Barack Obama in ’08 and Mike Schmidt in ’20.

By Margaret Seiler May 19, 2020

John Legend

Current and former governors and other elected officials. Unions. PACs. Advocacy groups. These endorsements are coveted, certainly. But one local candidate was blessed on the eve of Election Day with something quite different, an endorsement from none other than the Sexiest Man Alive, multiplatinum recording artist, The Voice reigning coach, EGOT winner, and Mr. Chrissy Teigen himself: John Legend.

“We were in a little bit of shock and disbelief. Of course, I took a screen shot to send to my parents,” Mike Schmidt said Tuesday morning, before polls closed and he was quickly declared the winner in the race for the rare open district attorney seat after current DA Rod Underhill announced plans to retire. “I know he’s been involved in the criminal justice reform movement for some time, so he has been paying attention to these issues, but it’s still quite a surprise.”

While the timing could have been better—more than a third of voters in the county had already turned in their ballots as of Monday—Schmidt said it was great to have a boost. “A friend texted me this morning, ‘Man, if the voters’ pamphlet would have said Governor Kate Brown, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, and John Legend ... ,’” Schmidt said Tuesday morning. “But at the same time, we’ve been campaigning for so long, over a year at this point, that it’s really nice to have something like that on the last day, just to put some big wind in your sails and make you feel great going into the big day.”

“I’m familiar with him, of course—I know who he is and I know some of his songs—but I will admit that last night I told Alexa to start playing John Legend,” says Schmidt. “I also had the impulse that I need to go buy a John Legend record right now, and support back and really familiarize myself. I love his music, so I’ll love it even more now.” Schmidt says his wife has now introduced him to the vast Twitter universe of Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigen. “She showed me one of these COVID massage clips that she did, which was pretty hilarious.”

On Tuesday Schmidt was preparing two sets of remarks, depending on whether he or assistant US Attorney Ethan Knight would prevail, to be delivered via Zoom to campaign staff, volunteers, family, and friends on Election Night via Zoom.

“I texted that to somebody and they sent me back the sad trombone,” Schmidt said about plans for the virtual victory party. “But it is what it is. Obviously we’ve got to stay healthy and safe first and foremost.”

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