Former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof has been running a well-financed “outsider” campaign for governor of Oregon this year. But the Oregon Supreme Court has today ruled that he’s a bit too much of an outsider. Kristof has been declared ineligible for the May Democratic primary ballot, owing to his failure to meet the state’s three-year residency requirement.
The court confirmed an earlier decision by Oregon secretary of state Shemia Fagan that Kristof’s 2020 vote and recent driver’s license in New York precluded establishing the kind of “fixed habitation and abode” in Oregon required by its constitution. The fact that the columnist grew up in and wrote about rural Yamhill, Oregon, where his family owns a farm, wasn’t enough, since, as the court put it, “a person can have only a single residence at a time.”
Kristof quickly conceded defeat in his fight for ballot access, which had previously led him to accuse fellow Fagan, a fellow Democrat, of trying to protect “the political establishment:”
The now-former candidate had outpaced the field in fundraising, though more than a few of his donors were from out of state and may lose interest in Oregon’s gubernatorial race. His defenestration from the contest leaves two Establishment Oregon Democrats, House Speaker Tina Kopek and State Treasurer Tobias Read, to fight for the Democratic nomination to succeed term-limited (and currently very unpopular) Governor Kate Brown.
But to the extent Kristof’s campaign was gaining traction, his departure could help Democratic state senator Betsy Johnson, who is running as an independent in the general election, having bypassed Oregon’s closed Democratic primary.
It’s unclear what Kristof’s next move will be. He’s a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, so he can always return to writing. (Perhaps on Substack?) Or perhaps he will take up farming in earnest.