In a surprise move, Patrick Starnes, the Independent Party of Oregon nominee for governor, today announced he is suspending his campaign and will urge voters instead to vote for incumbent Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat.
The news was first reported by WW's news partner, KATU-TV.
Starnes, a cabinetmaker from Brownsville, has run on one issue: campaign finance reform.
As he watched Nike co-founder Phil Knight pour $2.5 million into the coffers of the Republican nominee, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend), Starnes became increasingly dismayed. (Knight has given at least another $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which has in turn given Buehler $2.45 million.)
The race, by far the most expensive in Oregon history, has seen the two major party candiates raise more than $30 millon, shattering the previous record of $18 million set in 2010, when Democrat John Kitzhaber defeated Republican Chris Dudley.
Starnes told Brown the news Tuesday morning and the candidates announced his decision publicly at KATU's Northeast Portland studio.
The race between Brown and Buehler is close—The Cook Political Report, a national, nonpartisan organization recently called it a "tossup," as have others.
The Independent Party, which is Oregon's third major party, currently has 122,000 registered voter, which is 4.4 percent of the total number of registered voters. In local polls, Starnes generally gets a couple of percent, which suggests his decision to endorse Brown could have a significant impact on the race.
As of this morning, voters have returned just 21.6 percent of their ballots, according to the secretary of state's elections division.