The Oregon governor’s race just got more interesting with the announcement today that longtime New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff has resigned his position at the paper to weigh a run for the highest office in his home state. According to a Times announcement, Kristof, who has been on leave from the paper since June, was resigning “very reluctantly.”
“Because I have a great job, outstanding editors and the best readers, I may be an idiot to leave,” Kristof wrote in a statement to the Times staff. “But you all know how much I love Oregon, and how much I’ve been seared by the suffering of old friends there. So I’ve reluctantly concluded that I should try not only to expose problems but also see if I can fix them directly.”
Some news: I'm leaving a job I love. https://t.co/kMxmf0W2Gv— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) October 14, 2021
Earlier this week, Kristof filed paperwork to form a political action committee, which clears the way for a potential gubernatorial run.
Kristof, who has worked at the Times since 1984, grew up on a farm in Yamhill County and moved back there in recent years, planting 20 acres with pinot grapes and cider apples a few years ago. Questions around the legitimacy of his candidacy—he voted as a New York resident in 2020 and only registered to vote in Oregon at the end of December last year, according to a Wilamette Week report, which is less than three years prior to the gubernatorial election—were addressed by local legal firm Perkins Coie in August, when they released a 15-page memo arguing Oregon should be considered his home, counting his payment of property taxes, his frequent visits and investments in the state, and even his own social media posts among the arguments.
Last year Kristof, released a new book, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, set largely around his home county and tracing the ripple effects of generational poverty. His name has been circulating for months as a potential Democratic opponent for current Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, who officially announced her candidacy in August and is widely considered the frontrunner for the position. The 2022 race will have no incumbent, as Kate Brown cannot run for another consecutive term.
In an interview with Portland Monthly last year, Kristof called himself a "local yokel" and said that he was only able to write the book because he wasn't "some outsider parachuting in. This is someone who is part of the community and cares deeply about it and is trying to air problems with the hope that they will be addressed."