In recent weeks, Republican Christine Drazan, the former Oregon House minority leader, has opened a 3-point lead over Democrat Tina Kotek, a former state House speaker. If she wins, it would be the first Republican victory in a governor's race since 1982.
"I'm very concerned," Greg Peden, an aide to a previous Democratic governor, tells ABC. "I think this is the tightest race we've seen and the most complex race we've seen."
Kotek's support is being sapped to some extent by a wave-making independent candidate, Betsy Johnson, a former state senator who held office as a Democrat. A recent Emerson College survey found that 9% of Republicans support Johnson, versus 17% of Democrats.
Running as a "pro-choice, pro-jobs" moderate who's held an A rating from the National Rifle Association, Johnson is currently polling at around 16%. That's well off her peak in the high twenties. However, as the independent's showing has waned, it's Republican Drazen who's moved into the overall lead, according to a polling average maintained by FiveThirtyEight.
Drazan and Johnson have both hammered Democrat Kotek on festering crime and homelessness.
"Public safety has become the top issue in a way it didn't used to be," GOP strategist Rebecca Tweed tells NBC News. "It really is a problem here in Oregon. It's not just talking points."