Dudley, a former NBA player and financial adviser, rode a wave of voter animosity toward Democrats and a pledge to create jobs to give Kitzhaber a close race.
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Kitzhaber trailed early, but made up ground in Multnomah County, where Kitzhaber was heavily favored among the large Democratic majority in Portland.
The former two-term governor Kitzhaber and the political rookie Dudley have spent a combined total of at least $15 million on their campaigns this year.