The former New York Times columnist and Yamhill native has entered the Democratic primary field.

CAMPAIGN PHOTO - Former New York Times journalist Nick Kristof has formally announced his campaign to be Oregon's next governor. Nick Kristof made it official Wednesday morning, Oct. 27: He's running for governor in his home state of Oregon.

The former New York Times columnist — who grew up in the Yamhill area, south of Forest Grove — released his first campaign video Wednesday morning, highlighting homelessness, addiction and homicides in Portland among problems he wants to tackle.

Kristof, whose work at The New York Times focused heavily on humanitarian crises in countries like China, Sudan and Myanmar, said he returned to Oregon only to find many of those problems also playing out in his home state.

"Let's make Oregon a place that rewards American values like hard work and initiative," Kristof says in the video, "but that also understands that being down on your luck should never be a death sentence."

Kristof held a news conference downtown Wednesday afternoon at First Presbyterian Church in Portland. He discussed his lack of experience in office and his career in communication, as well as laying out his case for running.

"I think maybe the most effective thing a governor can do to bring about change is the ability to articulate an agenda for a state, rally people around it, and then use the bully pulpit and communications ability that we tend to cultivate in journalism to bring people together and build a consensus," Kristof said. "When three-quarters of the state by geography wants to secede, even though that's not going to happen, that still kind of breaks my heart. I think we do need to try to build some bridges."

Kristof was referencing a non-binding vote this past May in which a majority of voters in five counties in Eastern Oregon said they want to leave Oregon and join Idaho.

He did not touch on specific policy points Tuesday during an 18-minute session with reporters.

Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, grew up on a sheep and cherry farm and graduated from Yamhill-Carlton High School. His parents taught at Portland State University.

According to his attorneys at Perkins and Coie, Kristof purchased a 150-acre property in Yamhill in 1993 and also owns 290 acres in McMinnville.

While he has spent most of his adult life as a resident of New York, where he voted in the 2020 election, Kristof's attorneys released a legal memorandum in August insisting he meets Oregon's three-year residency requirement to run for governor. The memo cites court opinions, some of them more than 100 years old, pushing back on the argument that living and voting in New York disqualifies Kristof from being considered an Oregon resident.

Kristof graduated from Harvard University and has a law degree from Oxford University. He his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, have three children.

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, announced in August she will be running in the May primary. State Treasurer Tobias Read, a Beaverton Democrat, announced his candidacy in September. Also running is former Independent Party nominee Patrick Starnes, who has changed his party affiliation to Democratic.

Another Democrat, state Sen. Betsy Johnson of Warren, said earlier this month she also plans to run for governor — but as an unaffiliated candidate, bypassing the Democratic primary.

On the Republican side, former nominee Bud Pierce of Salem, Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam and Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten are among the declared candidates.

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