Oregon election officials say former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a Yamhill native, has not been a resident of the state long enough to run for governor.
Their decision will likely begin a legal fight that will be decided by the courts.
Last year, Kristof quit his job at The Times, where he won two Pulitzer Prizes as a journalist and columnist, to seek the Democratic nomination for governor.
A day after he formally filed, state elections officials sent him notice that they needed more information to determine whether he actually qualifies to run.
The state Constitution says that the governor must "have been three years next preceding his election, a resident within this State."
But there's no clear legal precedent for what being a resident of Oregon actually means in that context.
Kristof, by way of his lawyers, has said what matters most is intent. In their formal response to the state's questions, his attorneys documented his upbringing in Oregon, his history of spending summers at his family's Yamhill farm and his recent efforts to rejuvenate that farm.
Kristof has said he moved to Oregon full-time in 2019, though he voted in New York state in November 2020. And, he says, even when he split time between Oregon and New York, he considered himself an Oregonian.
In their decision on Jan. 6, state election regulators rejected that argument. Kristof and his campaign team will almost certainly challenge the ruling.
Despite being a political novice, Kristof has already raised an impressive amount of money and positioned himself as a centrist who has spent decades of studying governance from an outsider's perspective.
If he ultimately succeeds in entering the race, he appears poised to pose a major challenge to Oregon's other Democratic front-runners for governor, House Speaker Tina Kotek and State Treasurer Tobias Read.
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