What makes a resident? Experts weigh in on Kristof's run
Two Democrats who served as Oregon Secretary of State are formally supporting Nick Kristof's eligibility to run for Oregon governor from the same party.
Bill Bradbury and Jeanne Atkins supported Kristof in Oregon Supreme Court court briefs filed on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Bradbury held the office from 1999 to 2009 and Atkins was a Democrat who served from 2017 to 2019.
In addition, a coalition of religious groups and two legal experts, including the former executive director of the Oregon ACLU, also filed a brief with the supreme court arguing it should adopt a broad definition of the term "resident."
A group of Oregonians of color have also filed a brief opposing Kristof's eligibility, noting he has not voted in the state for 20 years and is using his "privilege" as a wealthy white male to undermine the voting rights of minorities and others who do not own property in the state.
Kristof's final brief is due by Wednesday, Jan. 26. There is no deadline for the court to decide the case after that, but ballots for the 2022 primary election must be ready by March 17.
The former New York Times columnist has filed as a Democrat nominee in the 2022 elections. Current Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan ruled him ineligible, in large part because he registered and vote in New York while working for the Times. Fagan is also a Democrat.
"In reviewing a candidate's proof of eligibility for office, a secretary should give the candidate the benefit of all favorable inferences and resolve any doubt in the candidate's favor. The inquiry should be more generous, less rigorous, than was shown to Kristof," said the filing, which argued qualifying residency is broader than voter registration.
Kristof has appealed the ruling to the supreme court, arguing he was raised in Oregon and always considered the state his home.
The Oregon Constitution requires that candidates for governor must be a "resident within" the state for three years before the general election they could win, in this case November 2022. The constitution and state law do not define the term "resident."
The decision also may affect the voting rights of other Oregonians who have multiple residences they do not consider their homes. Atkins told the Portland Tribune she is concerned the ruling might adversely affect people who register to vote while temporarily living away from what they consider their home — sometimes even out of state.
"Many people do have dual residencies, and although they can't cast ballots in both places, I know I have argued that they can legitimately choose one or the other. Would that be inconsistent with the position taken by the Secretary in Mr. Kristof's case? It sounds like it," Atkins said in an email.
The other brief was filed by the Leaven Community Land and Housing Coalition, which describes itself as including Sikh, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist and Christian, including United Methodist, Presbyterian Church (USA), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, and independent evangelical congregations.
Joining them are Dr. Angela E. Addae, an Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon School of Law who teaches and writes in the field of civil rights law, and David Fidanque retired in 2015 from the staff of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, where he had served for 33 years.
"[The parties to this brief] do not endorse or oppose any particular candidate and take no position on whether Mr. Kristof is eligible to run for Governor of Oregon. Rather, based on their interests described above, [the parties] feel the need to advocate for a definition of "resident" that includes those whose residences may change for a variety of reasons—voluntary and otherwise,"their filing said, adding, "Such a reading is consistent with the drafters' understanding of who a resident is—someone who is familiar with the state and calls it home—while rejecting antidemocratic exclusion and xenophobia of a bygone era."Opposing Kristof are: Wlnsvey Campos, an Oregon State Representative; Imani Dorsey, the co-founder and interim executive director of Washington County Ignite; Nancy Haque, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon; Reyna Lopez, executive director of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos Noroeste (PCUN); Becca Uherbelau, an executive board member of New Oregon Movement; and Andrea Valderrama, a state representative who also works for the ACLU. Their brief was filed by Nick Kahl, an Arab-American attorney and former state legislator.
"We completely agree with the Oregon Secretary of State that there must be an objective and fair standard for determining whether someone has actually been a resident for the three years required by the constitution: voter registration and voting record. Because of historic and systemic racism, members of our communities have been subjected to redlining and discriminatory housing practices that have prevented us from becoming homeowners, let alone owning multiple homes and investment properties," Valderrama said in a press release announcing the filing.
Kristof's final filing is due on Wednesday, Jan. 26. There is no deadline for the court to decide but ballot for the May 2022 primary election must be filed by March 17.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.