“I have friends trying to convince me that here in Oregon, we need new leadership from outside the broken political system,” Kristof said in an emailed statement. “I’m honestly interested in what my fellow Oregonians have to say about that. All I know for sure is that we need someone with leadership and vision so that folks from all over the state can come together to get us back on track.”
News that Kristof is considering a gubernatorial bid was first reported Sunday by Willamette Week. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) is term-limited, and the 2022 Democratic primary field is wide open.
Kristof, 62, grew up on a farm southwest of Portland, according to Willamette Week. The Times reported Monday that the columnist and his wife, writer Sheryl WuDunn, returned to Oregon two years ago and that Kristof has recently become more involved in managing the family farm.
Kristof has been a Times columnist since 2001 and is best known for his foreign correspondence; he and WuDunn won the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting for their coverage of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. Kristof won the Pulitzer Prize in commentary in 2006 for his columns on the genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Kristof and WuDunn have also written several books, including “Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope,” which was published last year.
Regardless of whether Kristof enters the race, Oregon’s Democratic gubernatorial primary field could wind up being a crowded one. At least six people are considering bids, including state treasurer Tobias Read, state attorney general Ellen Rosenblum and state House speaker Tina Kotek.
Danielle Rhoades Ha, the New York Times’s vice president of communications, confirmed in a statement that Kristof is on leave. She cited the newspaper’s standards, which state that “no staff member may seek public office anywhere.”
“Nicholas Kristof is a deeply valued Opinion colleague and columnist, and although Nick has not made up his mind about whether to pursue a political candidacy, we agreed he’d go on leave from The Times, in accordance with Times standards, after he brought this possibility to our attention last month,” she said.