Top Democratic challenger disqualified from major gubernatorial race

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who was mounting a run for governor in Oregon as a Democrat, is ineligible to run, the state Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

The court said in its ruling that the challenger didn’t meet the residency requirements. 

According to CNN, Kristof wasn’t challenging the ruling.

“Today, in a mandamus proceeding initiated by relator Nicholas Kristof, the Oregon Supreme Court held ‘resident’ in Article V, section 2, took its meaning from the legal concept of domicile, that is, the place where a person lives with the intent to remain indefinitely,” the court said in a media release.

The court noted that Kristof had resided in New York from the “early 2000s until December 2020.”

Oregon’s state constitution requires gubernatorial candidates to be Oregon residents for the “three years next preceding” the election.

“It’s clear that the framers of the Oregon Constitution understood that residency means an Oregon ‘domicile,’ and that you can only have [one] domicile at a time,” Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said after her office rejected Kristof from the May primary ballot, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

“Not only do the objective facts demonstrate that Mr. Kristof was not domiciled in Oregon until late 2020 … They would create irrational results; for example, under the rule, Mr. Kristof proposes, a person would be eligible to run for Governor, or serve as Governor, in two different states at the same time.”

Kristof had challenged the state’s ruling, having “argued that the secretary had construed the constitutional term ‘resident’ too narrowly and that, properly construed, it was possible for a person to be a resident in two places at the same time.”

She added that ruling that Kristof was a resident meant someone could be “elected Governor of Oregon while continuing to vote and live out of state … Construing residency so broadly that it allowed those scenarios would undermine the reasons for adopting any residency requirement at all.”

In a unanimous ruling, the court disagreed. In a statement, the Pulitzer Prize-winning liberal writer said he would “respect the court’s decision and will not pursue this further.”

“The Supreme Court has spoken. And while we are disappointed in the decision, we respect its ruling and thank the justices for their thoughtful consideration on this matter,” Kristof said.

In a tweet, he added that “while I won’t be on the ballot, I’m not giving up on our State. I know we can be better. I will continue working to help people who are struggling, who lack opportunity and hope.”

Kristof was one of several announced candidates to replace term-limited Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat.

He was arguably the most prominent, given that he’d written for the Times up until he’d announced his run in October. He’d already raised more than $2.5 million for his campaign.

Kristof was also arguably the most liberal candidate currently on the ballot, having cited “unaffordable housing, weak mental health support, inadequate education and a politics that has treated addiction not as a disease but as a crime” as the issues he would tackle as governor in his campaign announcement.