When I heard that Nicholas Kristof, a former columnist for the New York Times, was running to be Oregon's Governor, I was enthused.
Wow, a non-politician who, unlike Trump, was intelligent, knowledgeable about the world, and obviously a sophisticated communicator.
I started following Kristof on Twitter. I enjoyed his cogent well-written tweets, along with appealing photos of his family at their Yamhill County farm.
But now I've soured on Kristof.
Yesterday the Oregon Secretary of State, Shemia Fagan, ruled that Kristof didn't meet the residency requirement to run for Governor. The Oregon Capital Chronicle, a great news source, said in its story:
Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said Thursday that deciding former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof didn’t qualify to run for governor “wasn’t even a close call.”
Fagan’s staff notified Kristof’s campaign on Thursday morning that he didn’t meet a constitutional requirement to be a “resident within this state” for three years prior to the November 2022 election.
Fagan outlined findings by the state Elections Division in a Thursday morning news conference, citing the Democrat’s ties to New York and his failure to produce documents he said made his case.
Hours later at his own news conference in Portland, a defiant Kristof vowed to fight the ruling, calling it an act of self-protection by a “failing political establishment.”
If Kristof had simply said he disagreed with the ruling and would appeal it, that would have been fine by me. But when I saw this tweet by Kristof, I had to reply to it.
Note: It seemed obvious to me that "My candidacy was stolen by the Deep State" was my made-up quote to sound like something Trump would say, but a few people who can't appreciate literary subtlety somehow thought I was quoting Kristof.
It's unlikely that a Republican will be elected Governor next November. But Betsy Johnson, a moderate Democrat, is running as an independent. It's unclear whether she'd pull more votes from the Democratic or Republican gubernatorial candidate. Regardless, I want to see a Democrat win.
If Kristof somehow were to win both his appeal of Fagan's ruling and the Democratic primary, he'd be saddled with carpetbagger "not really an Oregonian" epithets throughout the general election campaign.
So that's another reason I no longer support Kristof. Plus, the Capital Chronicle tried to get the documents that Kristof claims show that he truly has been an Oregon resident for the past three years, but he refused to share them.
With legal opinions by private attorneys and in a 15-page sworn affidavit, Kristof defended his right to run on two prongs. One is an analysis by his lawyers and others that concludes that Kristof meets the constitutional requirement to run for governor. The second is referring to a string of documents ranging from tax returns to incorporation papers he maintains show he has been an Oregon resident.
A long-time journalist, Kristof didn’t submit these records to the Secretary of State’s Office and rejected a request for them from the Capital Chronicle. Kristof also didn’t answer questions about other public documents obtained by the Capital Chronicle or about his sworn statements regarding his farming operation outside the rural community of Yamhill. He also didn’t respond to an email sharing elements of this story to check for accuracy.
On Dec. 23, the Capital Chronicle requested redacted copies of his New York and Oregon driver’s licenses, his 2018 and 2019 New York and Oregon personal income tax returns, the Yamhill County property tax bill for Kristof Farms for the past three years and the farm’s 2019 corporate tax return and workers’ compensation insurance policy.
Kristof’s campaign didn’t respond with any documents or an explanation for why they weren’t being provided.
Instead, Kristof and his campaign basically say that because he feels like he's always been an Oregonian, that means he's a long-time Oregon resident. Which is absurd. I've grown accustomed to Trump elevating his feelings over facts, but I expected a lot more from Kristof.
He's appealing to the state Supreme Court. That Capital Insider story includes the 185 page brief his attorneys have filed. Which is really quick work, given that Fagan issued her ineligible-to-run ruling only yesterday. Sure seems like Kristof expected that to happen.
Glancing through the brief, it looks like some solid arguments are being made, along with, I'm sure, some dubious arguments.
Like I said, even if Kristof wins the appeal, the way he handled the Secretary of State ruling leaves a bad taste in my political mouth. Sure, Kristof isn't a member of Oregon's Democratic establishment. But I find it hard to believe that Fagan was out to tank Kristof's candidacy when she made her ruling.
If the Oregon Supreme Court issues a scathing reversal order of Fagan's decision, that would help to rejuvenate Kristof's campaign. But I still think he's too wounded to win the Democratic primary.