Nicholas Kristof—a Democrat and former New York Times columnist—has officially joined the Oregon race for governor. In a video announcing his candidacy, Kristof says that, as a journalist, he's "spent a lifetime shining a light in the darkest corners of the globe."
"It broke my heart to return from crises abroad only to find crises here at home," he continues. "And that's why I'm running for governor."
Kristof grew up in Yamhill, Oregon before pursuing journalism at the Oregonian, Statesman Journal, and eventually the New York Times. In 1989, Kristof and his wife, fellow journalist Sheryl WuDunn, won a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in China. Kristof collected another Pulitzer in 2006 for his reporting on the Darfur genocide in Western Sudan. Kristof has no prior experience in government.
As a columnist, Kristof has pushed narratives that conflate sex work with sex trafficking, helping lay the foundation for laws like SESTA/FOSTA that make sex work more dangerous. More recently, Kristof criticized Portland leaders for not taking a stronger stance against Portland's racial justice protests to reclaim "order" in the city and attract business executives.
Kristof taps into this brand of Portland fear-mongering in his campaign video:
"If you want to see what happens when our politics so badly fails the people it's supposed to serve, just take a walk through downtown Portland," Kristof says, his voice paired with a video clip of Portland homeless camps.
Kristof says that as a leader, he'll work to address homelessness, housing affordability, and the state's lacking mental health and substance abuse resources.
Kristof's announcement doesn't come as a huge surprise. Earlier this month, he resigned from the New York Times after 37 years at the paper, citing his interest in running for governor in the state where he grew up. Kristof, who moved back to his Yamhill family farm earlier this year from New York City, has also established a candidate committee with Oregon's secretary of state. The committee, Nick for Oregon, has yet to list any campaign donations.
The primary race for Oregon governor falls on May 17, 2022. Current Governor Kate Brown is unable to run for the seat due to term limits, opening the door to what's expected to be a broad slate of candidates. Several Democrats have already announced their run for the seat, including Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, Treasurer Tobias Read, and Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla. Cabinetmaker Patrick Starnes, Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, political consultant Bridget Barton, small business owner Jessica Gomez, and physician Bud Pierce have all joined the race as Republicans. Democratic Oregon Senator Betsy Johnson has entered the race as the sole Independent candidate.