Nicholas Kristof, one of the New York Times’ highest-profile columnists, is leaving the newspaper and appears poised to run for governor of his home state of Oregon in 2022, attempting the rare journalism-to-politician pivot.
Kristof, whose op-eds often focus on the social inequities plaguing the U.S. and the world, has been at the Gray Lady for 37 years, 20 of those as a columnist, drawing many admirers and more than a few critics along the way. He has won the Pulitzer Prize twice, for his reporting on the Tiananmen Square protests and for columns on the massacres in Darfur. But he often writes about Yamhill, Oregon, where he grew up on a sheep and cherry farm, which has faced many of the problems common to small American towns in the 21st century.
Kristof had already been on leave from the paper since June as he mulled a run, and this week he filed to organize a candidate committee with the state, signaling his firm interest in the endeavor. The current governor of Oregon, Democrat Kate Brown, is prohibited from running again because of term limits.
“Precisely because I have a great job, outstanding editors, and the best readers, I may be an idiot to leave,” Kristof said in a statement. But you all know how much I love Oregon and how much I’ve been seared by the suffering of old friends there,” he added. “So I’ve reluctantly concluded that I should try not only to expose problems but also see if I can fix them directly.”
Now to test whether voters in a reliably blue state — but one with large swaths of red — will warm to a member of a professional class that has scarcely ever been less trusted.