Nicholas Kristof, a former New York Times columnist seeking to become the next governor of Oregon, does not qualify to run for the office this year because he failed to meet the state’s three-year residency requirement, state officials announced on Thursday.
Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said the decision came after the agency reviewed the voting and taxpaying history of Mr. Kristof, including his registration as an Oregon voter in December 2020 after having been previously registered in New York.
“The rules are the rules and they apply equally to all candidates for office in Oregon,” Ms. Fagan said in a statement. “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.”
Mr. Kristof said that he planned to challenge the decision in court and that he was confident he would prevail.
“A failing political establishment in Oregon has chosen to protect itself, rather than give voters a choice,” he wrote on Twitter.
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Ms. Fagan said she wanted the state to work with his campaign to expedite the appeal in the hope that a decision could come from the State Supreme Court by March 17, when ballots for the primary are to be printed.
Mr. Kristof’s family moved to a sheep and cherry farm in Yamhill, Ore., when he was a child, and his campaign had made the case that he saw the farm as home even as his life and career took him to other places in the country and around the world.
His campaign had argued, in part, that Oregon’s residency requirements had roots in historical racism as a way for white elites to hold on to power and exclude people of color or newcomers.
Mr. Kristof cited his ties to Oregon in initiating his campaign, saying he wanted to help address issues of employment, addiction and incarceration in what he considered his home state.
“While I have no doubt that Mr. Kristof’s sentiments and feelings toward Oregon are genuine and sincere, they are simply dwarfed by the mountains of objective evidence that until recently he considered himself a New York resident,” Ms. Fagan said. She noted that Oregon’s vote-by-mail system made it exceptionally easy for residents to vote when they were out of the state for some reason, but that he had not done so.
In the race to succeed Gov. Kate Brown, who cannot run this year because of term limits, Mr. Kristof had emerged as a credible challenger to other hopefuls, including Betsy Johnson, a former Democratic state senator running as an independent; Tobias Read, the state treasurer running as a Democrat; and Tina Kotek, a Democrat who is the speaker of the Oregon House. Mr. Kristof is running as a Democrat.
Mr. Kristof has raised more than $2 million for his campaign, drawing on a network of contacts such as the philanthropist Melinda French Gates and the actress Angelina Jolie. He has made the case to voters that he is not a politician but someone who has spent a career trying to address problems for people who are struggling. Mr. Kristof won two Pulitzer Prizes at The Times, one for reporting on the Tiananmen Square protests in China and another on genocide in Darfur.
As he considered a run for governor last year, Mr. Kristof was on leave from The Times. He left The Times in October as he filed to organize a candidate committee.