Steve Novick: a nontraditional candidate with an edge

By Stacey Dycus of Bend, Oregon. Stacey describes herself as "a political organizer for progressive issues for ten years and a principal of Oregon Political Staffer LLC."

There has been a lot of speculation around the U.S. Senate race about who is in and who is not. Countless internet columns have been devoted to details describing every potential candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. We’ve almost had a Primary right here on BlueOregon.

But, let’s be honest. Gordon Smith is a very good politician (note: I did not say Senator). He looks like a politician, he sounds like a politician and he certainly acts like a politician. I don’t believe anyone can “out-politician” Gordon Smith and that if we really want to defeat him, it will take someone who is not a politician.

To shake up this race, we need a nontraditional candidate with an edge. I think that candidate is Steve Novick.

I attended a gathering of political reporters recently and when Steve Novick’s name came up, there was instant energy in the conversation. “He has a great story” said one. “Delivered his whole announcement speech by memory” said another. “He’s brilliant!” exclaimed a third. The Oregon political press corps recognizes that Steve is a very serious candidate and it shows from the way they have covered him (see the clips on Steve’s web site):

Steve has a history of winning… he just doesn’t give up.

Steve was in junior high in Cottage Grove when his school closed due to failure of a budget levy in 1976. He didn’t stop his education there. He tenaciously began attending classes at the University of Oregon and graduated at the ripe old age of 18. In 1981, Steve went to Harvard Law School, as the Eugene Register-Guard put it:

"Harvard Law School doesn't make a habit of accepting junior high school dropouts, but in Steven Novick's case Harvard has made an exception."

As an attorney, Steve joined the Land and Natural Resources Division of the United States Justice Department in 1987. He brought successful lawsuits against polluters for violations of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. He also served as lead counsel in the notorious Love Canal case. On that case in 1995, Steve and his team negotiated a settlement in which Occidental Chemical repaid the taxpayers $129 million in cleanup costs and interest.

Steve moved back to Oregon and in the 1997 legislative session was caucus director for the Democrats in the State Senate. At that point the D’s were outnumbered 20 to 10. But the Senate D’s’ kept their spirits up, challenged the Republicans, and made news. Any of those Democrats – from Cliff Trow to Kate Brown – would give Steve a lot of credit for that energy. That momentum carried over to the 1998 campaign cycle, in which the Senate D’s won back three seats. Willamette Week called Steve one of the behind-the-scenes “winners” of the 1998 elections.

In the 2000 cycle, Tim Nesbitt, former AFL-CIO director now Kulongoski’s Deputy Chief of Staff, chose Novick to run a new non-profit dedicated to engaging in the initiative process and fighting Bill Sizemore. Part of Steve’s job was to review the all-important “ballot titles” for initiatives. Novick argued numerous ballot title cases in the Oregon Supreme Court, and won so many that former Chief Justice Wally Carson called him “extraordinary” in the Oregonian’s article about Steve last year.

Another part of Steve’s job was to spearhead the campaign against the massive tax cut for the wealthy that Sizemore put on the 2000 ballot. Steve researched and fact-checked Sizemore’s statements and convinced the Oregon Association of Broadcasters to have stations pull one of the his ads off the air. Sizemore’s measure was crushed. Steve used the facts to beat him.

In 2003, as the legislative liaison for the State Department of Education, Steve led the charge for Legislative scrutiny of the Oregon Lottery’s huge giveaways to the taverns that house video poker machines that were taking money that should have gone to schools. If you Google “Steve Novick” and “video poker” you will see how dogged Steve was in pursuing that cause, in 2003 and later years. Ultimately, Steve encouraged the education unions to file a lawsuit arguing that the Lottery – under the leadership of Gordon Smith’s state director, Kerry Tymchuk -- acted illegally in deciding to give away vast sums. In December of 2006, the State Court of Appeals ruled that Steve was right. The Oregonian had an editorial praising the court’s decision. Again, Novick wins.

From 2004 to 2006, Steve was communications director for Citizens for Oregon’s Future, dedicated to a public information campaign on tax and budget issues. TV, newspapers and radio stations from Portland to Pendleton to Eugene to Salem to Medford covered COF’s “Where Your Tax Dollars Go” reports and events on April 15 of 2004 and 2005. Steve knows how to build media relationships and he’s not afraid to make news.

With his background as an attorney, Steve also has excellent debate skills and could hold his own against Gordon. In 2006, as the policy director for the “Defend Oregon” campaign against Measure 48, Steve debated Don McIntire in a Portland City Club and the coverage the next day declared Steve “the winner.”

Now I know winning in a debate is not the same as winning a campaign, but I’ll argue: Novick HAS won a lot of campaigns. He has won them for the environment, he has won them for taxpayers and he has helped win a lot of races for Democrats.

Steve isn’t a spin-mister or a slick political consultant, he’s a really smart guy with a lot of heart who has the facts on his side and he’s not afraid to use them. Yes, there are maybe better politicians out there thinking of getting into the race…but what we really need is a fighter with a strong left hook who knows how to win. That’s Novick.

Comments

  • All Facts Support My Positions (unverified)
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    From up here in Washington, you guys gotta get rid of the - R next cycle. Smith may be a good politician, but you need to let every voter in Oregon know he has voted against our future every chance he got. Period. A little crying about how the war he helped to start is not gonna do it.

    Please visit http://www.soundpolitics.net

    Put a corkscrew up Stefan's ass

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    I never heard of Novick until Rep. DeFazio pulled the plug on his movement to get him drafted. Who couldn't help but be attracted to Steve's bio. The more i learned his stances on the issues of the day, the more pleased i became and would love to see him challenge Smith in '08!

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    If the choice for senator in November 2008 is between form and style (Smith) and substance (Novick) and the majority of Oregon voters have enough sense and class, then Novick will win. Smith's advantages are that he is a handsome and rich Republican which will get him a lot of votes from our more superficial neighbors, but I wouldn't agree that he is such a great politician. If he were a better politician there wouldn't be so many people recognizing that he is a phony. Novick's bio should overwhelm Smith's so it is up to his supporters to get the word spread around Oregon.

  • red (unverified)
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    If I wanted Novick's bio, I would have went to his website.

    But that's beside the point. How do you list his work history and then conclude that he's not a "spin-mister or a slick political consultant." If my resume looked like his, I would definitely fall into at least one of those categories.

    red.

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    red,

    read this part again:

    Another part of Steve’s job was to spearhead the campaign against the massive tax cut for the wealthy that Sizemore put on the 2000 ballot. Steve researched and fact-checked Sizemore’s statements and convinced the Oregon Association of Broadcasters to have stations pull one of the his ads off the air. Sizemore’s measure was crushed. Steve used the facts to beat him.

    i take it that you've probably never met Steve. He doesn't come across like a "spin-mister or a slick political consultant." what he's got is brains to spare. i can't remember who said it here, but if when he's elected Senator of Oregon, the average IQ of Washington DC is going to soar.

    the level of integrity is going to be significantly increased as well, because Steve doesn't need to sling mud or skew the facts. he's already said he's going to beat Smith by by highlighting Smith's own record. he's an honest, hard-working, brilliant guy. he's not a "politician," he's a public servant.

    he's spent the better part of his career working on things that have made things better for us here in Oregon. what's impressed me most about Steve is that he's done so much, but never sought the spotlight. i can't think of anyone else with those attributes who is willing to endure the rigor of a US Senate campaign. we're lucky to have him in the race, and i'll feel privileged to vote for him.

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    Steve Novick will be speaking at the monthly Washington County Central Committee meeting this Wednesday, July 25, at TVFR Station in Aloha. Social time is 6:30PM, meeting begins at 7PM. KPOJ morning host Carl Wolfson will also be speaking that night. Check out www.washcodems.org for location map and details. All Democrats are welcome, and Washington County Dems are encouraged to attend and get involved with their Party.

  • (Show?)

    Stacy nails it. I would add that Gordon Smith is one "slick politician". If you haven't personally met Steve Novick I would highly recommend that you do yourself a favor and make it a point to do so - you won't be sorry.

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    Seems I left out a key word in my previous comment: Steve Novick (and KPOJ's Carl Wolfson) will be speaking at the monthly Washington County Democrats Central Committee meeting this Wednesday, July 25, 7PM at TVFR Station in Aloha. All Dems welcome. www.washcodems.org

  • James Frye (unverified)
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    I can only speak for myself here, but I've already made my decision and my vote will go for Steve Novick. I've seen Steve via YouTube and other venues (hopefully soon I'll see him in person) and one thing impresses me: the man is a fighter. I've followed the talk of other possible Democratic Senate candidates and they seem to be very nice people, and therein lies the problem. 2008 is going to be very nasty and nice just ain't gonna cut it - I think Steve has the steel in more than just his left arm to deal with what will be thrown at him. Back to the support - I've even gone so far as to buy a button and put a bumpersticker on my car for him. So, if any of you are tooling around Salem and spot an emerald-green Mazda with a 'Steve Novick for US Senate' in the back window, be sure and wave 'hi'!

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    I worked with Novick during the 1998 cycle -- when Rs outnumbered Ds two to one -- and believe that his two cycle strategy to regain control before reapportionment was as masterful as it was disciplined. Underestimating Steve -- or voters' thirst for change next year -- would be a HUGE mistake.

    Now I know winning in a debate is not the same as winning a campaign, but I’ll argue: Novick HAS won a lot of campaigns. He has won them for the environment, he has won them for taxpayers and he has helped win a lot of races for Democrats.

    Add to this work instrumental to our campaign's victory against a medical malpractice initiative (No on 35 in 2004) that would have weaken patients' rights to their day in court. It was an extremely close and hard fought election, and we would absolutely not have won without Steve's brilliant legal work on the ballot title.

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