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PORTLAND -- The Portland mayor's race enters its final days with former City Commissioner Charlie Hales well-positioned for a successful political comeback.

In a race defined by negative press, polls show Hales leading state legislator Jefferson Smith by some 20 points.

Portland pollster Tim Hibbitts says news reports about Smith's terrible driving record and the revelation that he hit a woman in the face at a party two decades ago have taken their toll. He says the outcome will only change if something catastrophic happens to the Hales campaign.

Despite the downbeat press, the candidates have refrained from airing any attack ads and their debates were civil.

The 56-year-old Hales served as a city commissioner from 1993-2002. Under Portland's commission form of government, the mayor and four commissioners share executive branch duties.

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