Ex-columnist Kristof ineligible to run for Oregon governor

Andrew Selsky
Associated Press

Salem, Ore. – Oregon’s secretary of state ruled Thursday that former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is not eligible to run for governor because he does not meet the state’s residency requirement.

Questions about Kristof’s residency had dogged him even before he announced his candidacy in October. According to Oregon law, a candidate must have been a resident of the state for at least three years before an election.

Former New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof talks about his candidacy for governor of Oregon on Oct. 27, 2021, in Portland, Ore.

Kristof voted in New York in November 2020, raising questions about his eligibility to run in the November 2022 election in Oregon. Oregon officials had asked him for more information.

The Oregon Elections Division said it notified the Kristof campaign Thursday morning that it is rejecting his filing for governor because he does not meet the constitutional requirements to serve.

“The rules are the rules and they apply equally to all candidates for office in Oregon. I stand by the determination of the experts in the Oregon Elections Division that Mr. Kristof does not currently meet the Constitutional requirements to run or serve as Oregon governor,” said Secretary of State Shemia Fagan.

For years, Kristof was a globe-trotting foreign correspondent and columnist. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner retired from the newspaper last year. Kristof’s announcement that he would run for governor as a Democrat generated a lot of interest and he raised more than $1 million in less than a month.

Oregon Elections Director Deborah Scroggin said Kristof can appeal the decision and that her division “is committed to doing everything possible to allow Oregon courts to decide promptly.”

Kristof’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, including whether he planned to appeal the decision.

Lydia Plukchi of the secretary of state’s office earlier said candidate eligibility is typically vetted by checking voter registration records and since he had voted in New York, she asked Kristof for any additional “documentation or explanation” to show he was an Oregon resident for three years prior to November 2022.

Kristof’s campaign offered a legal opinion by retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice William Riggs that Kristof has been a resident of Oregon since at least November 2019 “and likely much longer.”

Riggs said that Kristof’s voting in New York would undermine his Oregon residency only if it established that he didn’t intend Oregon to be his permanent home.

Kristof had pointed out that he moved as a 12-year-old with his parents to a farm in Yamhill, Oregon, in 1971, and has considered it to be his home ever since. He has purchased additional acreage nearby since then.

The 62-year-old Kristof, in his sworn statement, said that after he dies he wants to be cremated and his ashes spread on the farm and on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Democrats have held Oregon’s governor’s office since 1987, and others in the party running for the state’s high office include Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and state Treasurer Tobias Read.

Republicans seeking their party’s nomination include state Rep. Christine Drazan, former Republican nominee Bud Pierce and Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam.

Former Democratic state Sen. Betsy Johnson is running as an independent.