Nick Kristof Has Centered His Campaign for Governor on His Hometown, Yamhill. He and Yamhill’s Mayor Have Never Met.

“There’s a sense here that we’re being used. He’s using us to achieve a personal goal. It feels uncomfortable.”

As Democratic candidate for governor Nicholas Kristof awaits a ruling from the Oregon Supreme Court on whether he qualifies for the May ballot, interest in the first-time candidate’s campaign remains intense.

Even after Secretary of State Shemia Fagan ruled Jan. 6 that Kristof did not meet the state’s three-year residency requirement for gubernatorial candidates, supporters have continued to send Kristof checks. He’s raised nearly $160,000 so far this month, more than his two leading opponents, former House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and State Treasurer Tobias Read, combined.

The opportunity, former WW news editor Brent Walth points out in a lengthy Politico profile today, is that Oregonians are really unhappy with the status quo.

“The degree to which Oregonians believe their government is broken runs deep. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” says Adam Davis, co-founder of the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, who has tracked Oregonians’ attitudes for more than 45 years, told Walth, now an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon.

Walth walked the three-block downtown of Yamhill, Kristof’s hometown and the setting for the 2020 bestseller Tightrope, the book he and his co-author and wife Sheryl WuDunn wrote about America’s underemployed working class.

Although the book earned strong reviews and established a blueprint for Kristof’s retirement after 37 years as a journalist at The New York Times and his subsequent run for governor, Walth found the local barber and Mayor Yvette Potter, a Republican, are less enthusiastic than the donors who have poured money into Kristof’s campaign.

“He’s suddenly returned to say he’s now Oregon’s savior,” Potter told Walth. “There’s a sense here that we’re being used. He’s using us to achieve a personal goal. It feels uncomfortable.”

For his part, Kristof notes that he lives in unincorporated Yamhill; that’s why he and Potter don’t know each other.

As he waits for a Surpreme Court decision expected before the end of the month, Kristof tells Walth he’s keeping his focus on making government work for Oregonians again.

“My friends who have been homeless would not be homeless if they were earning $60,000 a year,” he told Walth. “Instead, they’re earning $20,000 a year at the margins.”

Read the entire Politico piece here.