PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof after months of public exploration has taken a step toward running for Oregon governor by forming a political action committee.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports Kristof officially filled the committee paperwork Tuesday. That allows him to raise money and hire staff ahead of an official announcement of his candidacy.

Political consultant Carol Butler has been working with Kristof as a volunteer as he considers a race and she somewhat downplayed the significance of the filing, saying it would allow him to continue exploring the idea.

He told KOIN 6 News in July he was thinking about running for governor.

“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,” he said at that time.

Kristof has been a columnist for the times since 2001. According to his biography, he grew up on a farm in Oregon. He and his wife have three children.

So far, at least 3 major candidates have announced they’re running for governor to replace Kate Brown: Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and State Treasurer Tobias Read as Democrats and Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, who is running as a Republican.

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report.