By Paddy McGuire and Charlie Burr. Paddy is a former Clinton appointee and executive director of the Democratic party. Charlie is an editor of Blue Oregon and former spokesman for Governor Kulongoski.
We’re on different sides of the Presidential race this year: Charlie is an Obama guy and Paddy is with Clinton. But we’re both proud to stand with Novick as our strongest choice against Gordon Smith. Here's why.
Oregon Democrats are poised to have a great year. We look toward the general election with more registered Democrats today than we’ve ever had in our state’s history. Between the two Presidential campaigns, a staggering 50,000 Oregonians have volunteered during our primary. And Tuesday night’s victory in Trent Lott’s old Mississippi Congressional seat marks only the most recent win in a string of special election victories.
People are hungry for something different. We’re fed up with this idiotic war, an economy seriously off track and a President who hasn’t heard about $4 a gallon gas. As veterans of statewide campaigns, everything we’ve seen and everything we know points to a simple reality: 2008 will look a lot different than 2002. And this year, the same old politics just ain’t gonna cut it.
The United States Senate is filled with folks who saw something that others didn’t and took their shot. That’s Novick. Always a few moves ahead, Novick didn’t need to wait for the political establishment to dangle millions in front of him to get him into this fight. Novick stepped up for the same reason he took on Bill Sizemore: he’s got our state’s back. He hit the ground running and has been smashing conventional wisdom ever since.
Novick would instantly capture people's imagination in a way that we have not seen since Wellstone. He would offer Oregonians a clear choice in a year in which authenticity matters. His remarkable personal story would bring the sharpest contrast to Gordon Smith. And he would beat like a gong the election issues that matter above all others: Smith's failed record and election year gamesmanship.
The fundamentals of this race have only become more favorable for Novick since.
We’ve both run tough campaigns. For us, this is not a quixotic exercise: We believe Steve is our party’s strongest candidate to take down Gordon Smith. Novick’s unconventional profile most closely matches the mood of the electorate. His scrappy campaign consistently outmaneuvers and outperforms his more well-funded opponent. And we strongly believe our nominee will need the type of positive earned media throughout the summer that Novick’s already demonstrate he can generate.
It’s worth noting that the same people who say Steve can’t win a general election are the ones who never gave him much of a prayer this primary. But nothing about this election changes our respect for Merkley and his accomplishments. Merkley’s work in Salem the past decade has made our state a better place. In another year, he’d be our choice in a heartbeat. And as with the Presidential race, we’ll work hard for Merkley if he pulls off a win this primary.
While we honor Merkley's work, elections are about looking forward. We don’t say this lightly, but we believe Novick could be another Wellstone. With no electoral experience, the professor from Carleton College didn’t fit the mold and was never given much chance to win. But Wellstone never underestimated voters and neither should Oregon Democrats this primary. As a result, he went on to become the most memorable, progressive voice in the Senate in decades.
Like Wellstone, Novick is utterly fearless. He’s unafraid to say exactly what he thinks and be the lone voice standing up for what’s right in the face of intense political pressure. Novick can also be a skillful coalition builder just as he did during the campaigns against Bill Sizemore. We have little doubt that Novick will be a gifted lawmaker.
In short, the Senate could use a guy like Novick. He’s principled, brilliant and relentless when fighting for those without a voice. And nobody is going to accuse Steve Novick of being “just another politician” because there has never been a U.S. Senator quite like Steve Novick.
As this campaign demonstrates, Novick’s no stranger to overcoming long odds. His work during the initiative wars of the 1990s was nothing short of masterful. His work on the Love Canal case saved taxpayers $129 million. And his personal story – graduating college at 18, Harvard Law at 21, using his talents to give back – can’t help but make you root for the guy.
In our estimation, Democrats need not fear that Chuck Schumer will fail to help our nominee, even if it’s not his guy. The DSCC desperately wants and needs to win this seat. They will ride the horse voters give them. They supported Jon Tester in Montana after he won the primary in 2006 and will do the same for Novick. Oregon’s numbers and landscape will just be too appealing for the DSCC to stay out.
This year, Democrats have seen a Presidential contest like never before. We’ve witnessed our first major African American and female candidates for the nomination of our party. No matter who takes the stage in Denver, we’ve already made history and are guaranteed to have a nominee that looks (and is) like no one we’ve ever seen at the top of the ticket. Why not a nominee for the Senate that looks (and is) like no one who’s ever served in that august body?
This is Novick’s year. In the spirit of Paul Wellstone, it’s time to show the slogan “Oregon, things look different here” applies not only to our landscape but also our Senators. Think of it, two Democratic Senators from Oregon: one really tall and one really short.
Perhaps "The Big Lebowski" said it best:
“Sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, 'cause, what's a hero? Sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talkin' about the Dude here - Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there.” – Narrator, "The Big Lebowski"
Novick’s the man for his time and place. We may not agree on the top of the ticket, but we both know this: Novick’s the dude.