SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's attorney general on Tuesday urged the state Supreme Court to promptly decide if former New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof is eligible to run for governor, after elections officials declared he wasn't.
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who until late November was herself considering running for governor, said in a memorandum to the court that the justices should take the case, as Kristof has requested, and “do so expeditiously.”
Last Thursday, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan announced that Kristof was ineligible to run in this year's election because he didn't meet the three-year residency requirement. She told reporters Kristof's claim to have been an Oregon resident the past several years “just doesn’t pass the smell test.”
Fagan, a Democrat, said that for the past 20 years Kristof has been living, working, raising his children, holding a driver’s license, filing taxes and voting — including as recently in 2020 — as a New York resident.
Kristof, a Democrat who calls himself a political outsider, quickly tweeted that “a failing political establishment in Oregon has chosen to protect itself.” On Friday, Kristof's attorney, who used to be Gov. Kate Brown's general counsel, asked the Oregon Supreme Court to overturn Fagan's decision.
“The Secretary of State has made the unprecedented decision to deny voters the opportunity to choose Kristof as their next governor,” attorney Misha Isaak wrote to the justices. They then asked Oregon Department of Justice attorneys for a response.
Kristof won two Pulitzer Prizes as a foreign correspondent and columnist for The New York Times, and his candidacy for Oregon governor made headlines in the national media, fueling interest in a gubernatorial race that often lacks drama.
In her response to the Supreme Court, Rosenblum urged the justices to rule on Kristof's eligibility before March 17, the deadline for finalizing the list of candidates for the primary ballot, “so that ballots can be printed and mailed to voters on time.”
She suggested both parties file all briefs by Jan. 26 so oral arguments, if they're needed, could be conducted Jan. 31 or Feb. 1.
Kristof’s attorney has also asked the court to decide quickly.
Kristof's "ability to do the work of a candidate for governor — raise money, win endorsements, attend campaign events — is severely burdened now that the Secretary of State has announced to the public that he is ineligible,” Isaak wrote.
Isaak's arguments to the justices were the same ones Kristof's team has been making for months: He grew up in Yamhill, Oregon, has long maintained property and spent summers there, and he always considered Oregon to be his home.
Fagan had said in her announcement that Oregon statute was clear that “if a person casts a ballot in another state, they are no longer a resident of Oregon. It’s very, very simple."