Former NY Times columnist ineligible to run for Oregon governor
The Oregon Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof did not meet the state’s three-year residency requirements to run for governor, leaving the former candidate with a large war chest and no plans for the future.
Judges in January upheld a ruling by Oregon election officials that the former reporter did not qualify, citing in particular that Kristof voted in New York in 2020.
“The choice of where to register (to vote) is significant because it provides evidence of the political community to which a person feels the most attachment,” the court said in its opinion.
Kristof, who moved to a farm near Yamhill, Oregon, with his parents when he was 12 and kept and expanded the property as an adult, announced his candidacy last October. The same month, The New York Times reported that he had quit after a decades-long career that saw him win two Pulitzer Prizes, including one with his wife, former correspondent Sheryl WuDunn.
He has raised $2.75 million in campaign donations and can keep it, either to give to other candidates or to use in a future run for office. Kristof said he wasn’t sure what he would do with the money and had to find out.
“Sheryl and I are going to take some time and relax, for the first time in a long time, and think about this. But what exactly do I do (next)? I don’t know,” Kristof said in an interview after the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision.
He said he intends to remain committed to the issues that concern him deeply and that he has written about, including homelessness, mental health, addiction treatment and efforts to create jobs and increase salaries. He also has several acres of pinot noir and chardonnay growing on his farm, with the first harvest expected this year.
Questions about Kristof’s residency had plagued him even before he announced his candidacy. According to Oregon law, gubernatorial candidates must have resided in that state for at least three years before the election.
But Kristof said his legal advisers have indicated that won’t be a problem. His campaign also secured an opinion from retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice William Riggs that Kristof has resided in Oregon since at least November 2019 “and likely much longer.” Three former Oregon secretaries of state sided with Kristof in a newspaper opinion piece.
“We didn’t expect this outcome,” Kristof said of the Supreme Court’s decision.
“I have a lot of respect for the Oregon Supreme Court,” he said. “I think they are smart lawyers. I’m disappointed with their decision, but smart people can disagree. I don’t question them in any way.
Oregon Chief Electoral Officer Deborah Scroggin and compliance specialist Lydia Plukchi told Kristof in January that they rejected his candidacy for governor because he did not meet the constitutional requirements for to be candidate.
Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan agreed, telling reporters at the time that Kristof’s claim that Kristof had been an Oregon resident for the past few years “just doesn’t pass.” not the smell test”.
As a foreign correspondent and columnist, Kristof has lived overseas and in New York, but said he never gave up his claim to be an Oregon resident.
If Kristof decides to run for office again, his residency shouldn’t be an issue. He says he’s in Oregon to stay.
“The farm will be my home until I breathe my last and my ashes are scattered on the farm,” he said.
He had run for the Democratic nomination, the party’s nominee to be chosen in the May 17 primary. His departure leaves former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and State Treasurer Tobias Read in the lead.
After the Supreme Court’s opinion was released, Kotek tweeted that “Kristof’s voice will continue to be important as we tackle Oregon’s biggest issues. I look forward to working with him as than fellow Democrat”.
Read’s campaign tried to woo Kristof supporters, saying “we all want someone who will challenge the status quo.”
In a tweet, Reed praised Kristof, saying, “Your passion for helping the homeless and creating opportunity in rural Oregon is inspiring.”
Republicans seeking party nominations include state Rep. Christine Drazan, former Republican nominee Bud Pierce and Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam.
Former Democratic Senator Betsy Johnson is running as an independent.
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