SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- The race for Oregon governor took an unexpected turn when the candidate of the state's third-largest party withdrew and threw his support behind Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.
Patrick Starnes of the Independent Party said in a joint telephone interview Tuesday with Brown that he backs her because she supports campaign finance reform. Starnes had made reform his centerpiece. Brown, who's facing Republican candidate Knute Buehler, said she was surprised and thrilled.
The current race has generated historic levels of contributions. Nike co-founder Phil Knight has donated $2.5 million to Buehler, a member of the Oregon House of Representatives.
The Independent Party comprises 4.5 percent of eligible voters in Oregon, and 28,000 of the 125,400 have already cast ballots. In Oregon, ballots are mailed in or left at drop-off sites.