2022 midterms

Oregon Says Nick Kristof Can’t Run for Governor, As He Doesn’t Live There

Former Times columnist Kristof will have to deal with residency issues in court and on the campaign trail. Photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

In at least a temporary blow to his 2022 gubernatorial candidacy, former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof got bad news today about his satisfaction of state-residency requirements. Oregon secretary of State Shemia Fagan ruled that Kristof violated the state constitution’s requirement of three continuous years of residency for all candidates for governor. A subsequent letter from Fagan’s office noted that Kristof voted in New York and possessed a New York driver’s license as recently as 2020.

“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 Fagan.

Fagan, as it happens, is a Democratic elected official, like all statewide officeholders in Oregon. Kristof is running in the closed Democratic primary scheduled for May 17.

The Oregon constitution does not spell out a definition of residency, leaving that in the hands of election officials. And that will be the basis of a court appeal of the decision by the Kristof campaign, which has long stressed the candidate’s links to the state where he grew up on a sheep farm and cherry orchard (which he and his family still own).

Kristof’s initial reaction to Fagan’s ruling is revealing, though. He implicitly accuses her of a deliberate effort to take him down on behalf of a “failing political establishment,” presumably to buttress his “outsider” street cred in a state where current officeholders aren’t very popular.

Kristof doesn’t want to appear too “outside” Oregon, of course. Best known for his globe-trotting coverage of human-rights abuses in various parts of the world, he has also cited his long-standing concerns about the impact of globalization and technology on places like rural Oregon and people like the state’s suffering blue-collar workers.

Even if Kristof gets Fagan’s ruling overturned, it draws unfortunate attention to the charge that he is parachuting into the state as a national and global celebrity. He’s far from the only prominent politician who will be labeled as a “carpetbagger” this year; in Pennsylvania, not one but two likely Republican U.S. Senate candidates (TV doc Mehmet Oz and hedge-fund mogul David McCormick) have scrambled to establish residency in the state.

At a minimum, the residency challenge is a distraction for a Kristof campaign that will face voters in just five months. Perhaps he can convert the scrutiny into valuable name ID.

Nick Kristof Declared Ineligible to Run for Oregon Governor