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It's a possible sign that the Yamhill native will take a run at the state's top office

After months of consideration, New York Times columnist and Yamhill native Nicholas Kristof has taken his most meaningful step to date toward running for Oregon governor.Kristof

In early October Kristof officially formed a political action committee, a move that will allow him to raise money and hire staff ahead of an official announcement of his candidacy.

"Nick has been exploring for the past few months," said Carol Butler, a political consultant who has been working with Kristof in a volunteer capacity as he considers a race. Butler downplayed the significance of the filing, calling it "another step toward a potential run for governor."

"It allows us to continue exploration," she said.

Beyond his fame as a Times columnist and author, Kristof in recent years has returned to the Yamhill farm where he grew up and has been working to reshape it into a vineyard and cider orchard.

The specifics of that move could come into play as Kristof, 62, gets more serious about the governor's race. There is speculation that he might not meet the state's three-year residency requirement for governor, especially because he voted as a resident of New York state last year. Kristof's campaign believes he will meet that threshold if his residency status is challenged legally.

Kristof is viewed by political consultants and potential candidates as a possible contender for the Democratic nomination. Politics watchers expect he will have enough money to be competitive in a race against House Speaker Tina Kotek, Treasurer Tobias Read and others. Gov. Kate Brown, also a Democrat, is term-limited and cannot run for reelection next year.

Kristof's supporters say he also brings an outsider perspective at a time Oregon is facing multiple crises.

"I think that he'll be a very attractive candidate," Butler said. "I think he'll attract the resources he needs to run a very competitive race."

Kristof's campaign had not reported any contributions as of Oct. 5. Among the well-heeled supporters who might support his candidacy is Win McCormack, the Portland-based owner and editor-in-chief of The New Republic who  HYPERLINK "https://newrepublic.com/article/163511/nick-kristof-governor"wrote glowingly of Kristof's ambitions last month.

While much of his career and life has been spent living internationally and on the East Coast, Kristof maintains that he has kept strong roots in Oregon and has always considered it his home. "Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope", a book Kristof co-authored with wife Sheryl WuDunn in 2020, focuses on his childhood classmates in Yamhill and how their rural upbringing led to sometimes tragic ends.

Boosters such as McCormack said they believe the perspective that Kristof has gained in his journalistic career — focusing heavily on human rights abuses and addressing poverty — has positioned him to lead at a time when many voters are dissatisfied with the status quo. The state's establishment Democrats often privately dismiss his chances, pointing out that he's never run for office.

Kristof's nascent campaign has not offered policy proposals, but an internal campaign memo, quoted by McCormack in his article, suggests he'd partly seek to heal the urban-rural divide that has long caused friction in Oregon.

"All these aims work together," the memo reportedly said. "Bolstering education would make economic development easier, and that can help heal the rift between the Portland area and Eastern Oregon."

While considering a run for office, Kristof has taken a leave of absence from his duties at The New York Times, the paper reported last month.


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