Dem Kitzhaber Wins OR-GOV, GOPer Chris Dudley Concedes

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The Oregon gubernatorial race, one of the tightest in the country, came to an end last night with Democratic former Gov. John Kitzhaber narrowly defeating former pro basketball player Chris Dudley.

Dudley led for most of the vote count, but many uncounted ballots remained in the Democratic stronghold of Multnomah County (Portland and its surrounding area). The Oregonian, the state’s largest newspaper and home to some of the top experts at interpreting returns under the state’s mail-in voting system, called the race for Kitzhaber as those votes came in. Kitzhaber eventually did in fact take the lead, and Dudley conceded.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet Your New Governors]Kitzhaber now leads by about one percent in the current totals — a raw vote lead of 13,000 — with 97% of the estimated total votes counted.

Kitzhaber previously served as governor from 1995-2003. Although he was term-limited in 2002, the state’s term limit is a consecutive limit and not lifetime — thus he could come back later and run this year in the open-seat race.

Kitzhaber’s narrow win keeps the Oregon governorship as the Democrats’ longest continuous hold on a statehouse, with the Dems having won every election since 1986.

Late Update: I was mistaken on my history. Oregon is edged out by Washington state for the longest Dem hold, with the state party having won every election since 1984.

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