Merkley, Novick, and media coverage

On his blog, Oregonian political reporter Jeff Mapes wonders aloud if the coverage of the U.S. Senate race so far has been fair.

The New York Times examines whether the news media is giving Barack Obama more favorable coverage than Hillary Clinton, which happens to be a charge that Clinton is routinely making these days on the campaign trail.

It seems we have the same thing developing in Oregon, where House Speaker Jeff Merkley, D-Portland, and his supporters have been raising a similar issue in his race for the U.S. Senate.

The gist of the complaints is that Merkley has been taking several rough knocks in the media while his primary opponent, Steve Novick, has been getting kid-glove coverage. And, not surprisingly, the Merkley folks would like to see more tough stories about the incumbent, Republican Sen. Gordon Smith. ...

Of course, I can't be a media critic on this race since I'm also covering it ... But it does seem like an issue worth raising. And I would be interested to know what you think: has the coverage been fair? What else should the media be covering?

So, let's discuss here at BlueOregon, too. Has the coverage of Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick been fair to the candidates thus far?

We'd like to encourage BlueOregon's several thousand readers who don't usually comment to chime in here, rather the same old partisans on both sides that seem to dominate every Merkley/Novick discussion here. What do you think?


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    LOL - great timing! I just put up a comment on Mapes' blog.

    I'd have to second jgilhousen's call for more scrutiny of Novick's records and positions. For example: Doesn't it seem very odd that Novick's job as the Legislative Liaison for the Oregon Dept. of Education is conspicuously missing from his campaign website's tally of his record ( It goes straight from 2002 to 2004 as if he'd never held such an important job during 2003. The same is true of many national Wiki-type websites that he has a campaign listing on. Google it sometime and you'll see. There is a whole series of questions which the conspicuously missing job listing raises. And it's very tempting to raise them. But the question here is about media coverage, not whether an individual Oregon voter knows how to use Google or not. Just imagine what an actual journalist with access to Lexis/Nexis could find. Surely that "strong left hook" that Novick's campaign uses for it's primary theme is useful for more than just opening beer bottles...
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    Interestingly enough... old Blue Oregon posts were the only place I found Steve Novick mentioning his ODE job during 2003 when I Googled it. Of course this place is haunted by political junkies who live in Oregon and it'd be foolish to assume that nobody here knows what he did during 2003. And I should add that I only went through the first few pages of Google results. He may have mentioned it elsewhere too. But it does seem very odd that it's totally missing from all of his campaign-related pages around the internets.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    I was at a reception a few evenings ago for Steve Novick. It was the first time I met him, and it took a little while getting used to his height or lack thereof since I'm a six-footer. I was indifferent to his now-famous left hook, but I was impressed with his command of the topics he discussed and his ability to get his points across. He handled questions very well. I don't agree with all his positions, but then I don't agree entirely with anyone I know of. I remain convinced he is the person I would like best to replace Gordon Smith.

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    As I said over on Mapes' blog here and here, Merkley is now enjoying the downside of all the advantages that come from being an elected official.

    His highs AND his lows both get more attention than Novick's, because Merkley has that higher profile that comes from holding office.

    Novick has to earn his coverage by being clever, engaging, and quotable. Luckily, that is his nature.

  • anonymous (unverified)

    It was wrong to call Merkley a loser, and Courtney neutral in the outcomes of the special session. Merkley really defied the odds to pass a pretty significant mortgage reform, which was the reigning in of prepayment penalties. The "United Financial Lobby" was hitting all the swing district House D's very hard trying to peal them off, but the House D's mostly stuck together thanks to Merkley's leadership appealing to the noble motives of caucus members and pealing off three critical Republican votes, which no one, but no one, was betting would happen. The word is that, based on his experience in developing housing at Human Solutions and Habitat for Humanity, Merkley and Rep. Paul Holvey of Eugene painted a compelling picture of how struggling people are being preyed upon by those who shill Adjustable Rate Mortgages when other options might be available. And when the borrowers try to get out later, they find out they're locked in with $6000-$7000 worth of prepayment penalties. So I say this: Say what you want about Merkley, but after Westlund's bill couldn't get out of the Senate, Merkley did the right thing. And Courtney, Devlin and their caucus killed the bill and couldn't pass any real mortgage lending reform.(i.e. - that not blessed by the "United Financial Lobby"). And if that House Bill was so "watered-down" why in the hell was every corporate financial lobbyist in the building dying to kill it?

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    FWIW I think the biggest issue in Oregon media is how little substantial coverage is given to either candidate or to local politics in general. We can argue about this article or that being unfair but there are just too few articles.

    When attention is given it's cursory or contrived - I include not just local TV news but also the WW and the Oregonian there. The WW drives me crazy when I read it, it just seem bent on making itself relevant with arrogant zingers and faux scandals.

    The Oregonian seems to be on balance ready to run more negative pieces on Merkley (or negative asides in the midst of what would otherwise be positive pieces), I'm not sure why. I get the impression that editors are every bit as strategic about their angles as politicians - they judge how competing periodicals are reporting and dictate tone and approach that doesn't seem too "soft" or partisan. But in their zeal to appear insightful and probing they often make straightforward actions by our elected officials appear much more convoluted and confused than they probably are in reality - in other words, they invent negative crap.

    We need more - of the good, the bad, and the ugly, on all the candidates. I think Jeff Merkley's postitive qualities and achievements will far outweigh whatever detractions there are, as long as all the information gets out. And Democrats should be singing the praises of both Merkley and Novick without reservation - we cannot afford to be divided and to invent exaggerated negatives against either candidate. Otherwise Oregon will just drift along indifferently and Smith will be re-elected out of pure inertia and election fatigue.

  • joe (unverified)

    Uh, since when has a candidate whining about media coverage and "fairness" ever made any difference? Merkley needs to get over it. Clinton needs to get over it.

  • LT (unverified)

    I just want to agree with Chris C. and say one other thing.

    This afternoon, an old friend (we've known each other since way back when Wayne Morse was alive, and have not always agreed) called to talk about Blue Oregon. Specifically, he wanted to know "Do these people understand what it takes to win an election?". His point of view is that there is the ideal situation, and there is the reality of who generally wins elections. And from his decades in politics he didn't see the comments on Blue Oregon as matching what generally wins elections.

  • davidg (unverified)

    LT, your old friend might just want to consider posting instead of keeping his secrets to himself.

    You have also raised anonymity to a new level: you are an anonymous stand-in for an anonymous commenter. Something new every day ...

  • LT (unverified)

    I tried to talk him into posting, but not everyone old enough to have actively campaigned for Bobby Kennedy is comfortable with computers. I even suggested a cool screen name for him to use.

    The fact is that the line in the original post,

    We'd like to encourage BlueOregon's several thousand readers who don't usually comment to chime in here,

    is more true than some regulars here would like to believe.

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    Just to put a little meat on that statement, BlueOregon averages roughly 4000 visits a day - and we have no more than a few dozen commenters every day. Easily 95% or more of our readers have never commented.

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    Unfortunately those stats hold roughly true for many if not most blogs. As many comments as Markos gets on a daily basis at DKos, it's just a drop in the bucket compared to his readership. Ditto for my blog. And I'd be willing to bet that at some point just about every blog owner/editor/author has been frustrated by it.

    The two guys who used to run Independents for Dean, who got me hooked on this blog thing, quit because they couldn't get enough of a conversation going to make it seem worth the trouble once Howard dropped out.

    To any lurkers reading this comment... We thrive on the interaction. Please, join in! You don't have to spend a lot of time every day doing it. Once in a while would be preferable, to us, than not at all. Trust me on this: we get tired of arguing/agreeing with the same people day after day, week after week.

  • BCM (unverified)

    What else should the media be covering?

    John Frohnmayer.

    Novick and the Merkley both strike me as highly unelectable. The Merkley is a god-awful speaker; Novick has the propensity to be a caricature of himself. Both realities, in my opinion, are personality flaws that have been overlooked to date but will be exposed in time.

    Frohnmayer's personality has been tested during his time at the NEA. Moreover, his positions are appealing to both Democrats and Republicans. A (highly disputed) poll puts him right behind Gordon Smith in the GE.

    To answer the original question, I think the media needs to be giving Frohnmayer real publicity. He has the assets to be a viable candidate--much more so than the Merkley and Novick--he just needs the publicity.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    As someone who reads the blog a lot more than writes in it, I have to note that it is not an inconsequential commitment to contribute. I agree that it is worthwhile but in order to actually participate in lucid debate in an open forum like this is an effort. There is a noise level to get above, in that there are many who come here more to sabotage progressive discussion than to test it, and many who let their emotional involvement in the issues make it unpleasant to be responsive. It is an investment in time also to keep track of the progression of comments to remain part of the discussion. I'm just saying that it is understandable why you have lots of 'lurkers'.

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    If Frohnmayer wants to be taken seriously as a candidate, he should run to win. For starters, that means re-registering and filing as a Democrat.

    Yes, I know. The two-party system sucks, etc. I agree wholeheartedly. But he can either run a campaign railing against that fact or he can run a campaign to win a US Senate race. The former is fine - that's what Ralph Nader does - but let's not pretend it's a winning strategy.

    From what I've seen of John Frohnmayer, he'd make a very tough candidate in the Democratic primary. If I were advising him, I'd advise him to jump in with both feet.

  • LT (unverified)

    How many of you have read with the You Tube video of Steve Novick discussing solutions to poverty?

    The guy in that video is serious, and his ideas just might work--the ones about health/food/obesity are similar to the ideas of everyone from Mike Huckabee (esp. how to solve the obesity problem), Jim Hightower (wasn't he once Texas Ag. Comm.?) and the farm to school nutrition programs in Oregon.

    The point is that there are people who would admire what Steve says in the You Tube video on that blog but who don't really care if he has clever commercials, can open a bottle with his hard left hook, or doesn't like Jeff Merkley's voting record.

    Now if someone wants to attack me for saying that I could vote for the guy in the video (as the very bright guy I have known for years) but find the guy in the ads being too clever by half (but not very serious), and as my friend said "how many sessions ago was that vote the Republicans set up so that it was a lose-lose proposition unless someone was out of the room and just didn't vote (doesn't work if there is a "call of the House")?, then go right ahead.

    It is the responsibility of Novick supporters and friends to let the candidate and the campaign manager know what tone they think would be most effective in winning the primary: Serious issue conversation proposing solutions to the problems of ordinary folks OR Clever ads and attacks on anyone who is not a Novick true believer.

    Take a lesson from the Huckabee campaign. He's the last candidate standing except for McCain--that wasn't supposed to happen! Everyone said he didn't have a chance in the world AND Romney had so much money he'd certainly be the front runner. Except that Huckabee has views on education (hint: management is more responsible for problems than front line educators) which any current GOP Oregon legislator would denounce and probably call "liberal"; as a man who lost over 100 lbs is a crusader for better nutrition (he and Bill Clinton as ol' Arkansas boys who have struggled with their weight have been allies on that); and in general talks more about rural poverty issues (as a former rural pastor) than any Republican in the last couple decades.

    So, who is the true "progressive"? It is the person who is as clever as other political consultants, the person who runs clever ads, the person (or campaign supporters) who attacks opponents?

    OR, is it the person who proposes solutions which sound so intelligent that ordinary folks will forgive that person for having "fringe" (defined as not mainstream among the people these ordinary folks know) views on some issues?

    100 years ago, Progressives were the movement for better lives for ordinary folks. Controlling corporate excesses, pure food and drug laws, and other reforms important to ordinary folks were part of the Progressive agenda.

    Presidential primaries, direct election of US Senators, votes for women, campaign finance reform, open government, anti-trust laws and corporate regulation were in the Progressive platform of 1912.

    That said, I agree with BCM. So far (although it may not be well organized), John Frohnmayer is more inspiring than Novick and Merkley put together. Claiming "he's just a spoiler" is no more likely to win friends and influence people than those on Hillary Clinton's campaign saying that hope is less important than experience. In 11 primaries that argument didn't help Hillary win. So why would any other campaign think that attacking those who are not true believers is more of a winning strategy than impressing people with proposed solutions?

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    That ship has sailed, Kari. Frohnmayer is in this race, and you are sorely mistaken if you think that people in both major parties have not recruited John for multiple offices, including US Senate.

    I doubt that he will exit the race, but I think the best chance of persuading him to spend his time doing something other than run for US Senate is if Steve Novick wins the Democratic nomination. John expressed a profound level of respect for Novick in my conversations with him.

    As things stand, he looks to draw between 7 and 15 percent of the general election vote, taking marginally more votes from the D's than from the R's. Even at 15 percent, I don't believe he will influence the outcome since you are probably looking at an 6-5-4 to a 7-4-4 split (D-R-NEW) in terms of who he is drawing from.

    Right now, given the fundraising differential, neither Democratic candidate has a terribly strong chance of being close enough to Gordon for the 1-3% differential to make a difference in the outcome.

    That said, I have no doubt that if John gets 10 percent and Gordon wins 50-40-10, some people will blame Frohnmayer for the Democrat losing, even though 60-70 percent of his base would not have voted for the Democratic nominee in any case.

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    I in no means qualify as someone who doesn't comment often nor do I think my opinion will particularly be a shocker but I wanted to take this opportunity to once again show how god awfully poor the Democratic presidential contest is as a analogy for the OR-Sen race.

    Hillary Clinton's campaign is falling apart because she ran on things she didn't have namely a edge in experience. Obama has just as much if not more government experience. Clinton ran on being the "solutions" candidate while constantly reminding voters that her big moment to enact those solutions was a horribly botched health care fiasco in the 90s while Obama can point to numerous successes like his ethics bill.

    The Oregon Senate race presents a much different situation. Merkley has undisputed and unparalleled legislative experience, Steve Novick has never been elected to anything, not even dog catcher. Unlike Obama Novick has failed to garner union support and unless I am really missing something has not galvanized a unparalleled and unprecedented movement of individuals who are calling and canvassing and doing meet ups all over the state. It is a piss poor analogy

    Merkley's media coverage has been quite unfair IMO especially from WW and from the O specifically on the special session where they placed unfair burdens on Merkley compared to other electeds and failed to realize the context of his actions on mortgage reform in the wake of the Senate defeating Westlund's bill.

    Finally on Frohnmayer, my position is if you want to run for something have a website that has more than 6 posts this year on the blog, has a functional press release section (that is more up to date that December of last year), and don't tell large gatherings of voters that the legislature is the branch of governement with veto power (as he did at Rebooting Democracy). He is pulling a Gravel who at one point during the presidential campaign nearly a third of his events were the debates. If your are going to run run otherwise get out of the way and let people that are willing do the work run. If he starts really running then the media should cover him.

  • LT (unverified)

    Thanks, Sal.

    Gordon Smith won in 1996 because so many people voted 3rd party (there were multiple 3rd party candidates).

    In some cases, had there not been 3rd party candidates, some of those voters would have left the ballot line blank or written someone in. A friend of mine called this a refusal to "choose between the slick one and the chinless one", although he decided to vote for the Democrat.

    In 1992, although Harry Lonsdale opted to campaign for a friend running for Congress and on the side of a ballot measure he felt strongly about, many of his friends wrote in his name on the general election ballot. He got just under 5800 votes, but that was less than the number of "misc." votes listed in the official abstract. I knew a Republican who voted for him in 1990 and wrote him in in 1992 because the incumbents had been in office long enough.

    The concern some of us have about whoever is the Democratic nominee is that sort of person. Is someone who voted for Gordon Smith every time (incl. Jan. 1996) going to vote for either Jeff Merkley or Steve Novick simply because their supporters want them to?

    A friend of mine in that category said the only reason to vote for someone other than Gordon would be individuals coming to the realization that "you're not the Gordon Smith we elected in 1996, you have turned into someone else". That's an individual decision, something consultants have little or no control over (attack a candidate too hard and friends of that person might vote for them anyway out of revenge against the attacks).

    Incumbents of both parties have lost re-election because of a perception that they have "gone DC" and no longer understand the concerns of the folks back home. Ron Wyden's 36 "every county every year" town hall meetings are likely to protect him from that fate.

    Recently I read a job description asking for someone "who can see the forest AND the trees". My guess is that the winner of this year's US Senate election will likely fit into that category.

    One more thing: anyone who has ever done event planning had to admire how Gordon Smith's campaign handled 1996 election night planning. He began the evening in Pendleton with the home town folks with plans to go to Portland ONLY if he was winning. One need not agree with any vote he has cast to admire that organization. A winning campaign this year should be similarly well organized.

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    Unlike Obama Novick has failed to garner union support...

    You might want to tell the Communications Workers of America, Local 7901 that.

    Of course Novick doesn't have the union support that Obama does. Obama's been in primaries and caucuses since January. It makes sense for there to be a lot of union endorsements already in the presidential race. Many of the unions here in Oregon still have to vote on their position in the U.S. Senate race, which isn't voted on until late May.

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    I doubt that he will exit the race, but I think the best chance of persuading him to spend his time doing something other than run for US Senate is if Steve Novick wins the Democratic nomination. John expressed a profound level of respect for Novick in my conversations with him.

    Excuse me, did the most public advocate for Frohnmayer just say that the best chance to have a spoiler-free Senate race is to nominate Novick?

    How's that for an incentive, Democratic voters? :)

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    Many of the unions here in Oregon still have to vote on their position in the U.S. Senate race, which isn't voted on until late May.

    Jenni's right; the two biggest Oregon unions haven't voted, and both have a more democratic (little d) process than AFL-CIO, which was basically 50 union presidents making their endorsement. I believe SEIU's endorsement is forthcoming in some fashion very soon. OEA's is next weekend and is a pretty open process (each candidate speaks, then they vote, in the middle of a fun convention for them) and high bar (60%) for endorsement makes them a wild card IMO. The more rank and file that get to vote, the less "payback" for favorable legislation helps a candidate.

    And also in response to bradley:

    If he starts really running then the media should cover him.

    You might say the same thing about Jeff, fairly: if he starts really running well, then the media should cover him better. The two main candidates are running on separate bars for their coverage, given their status and elite support. Novick is well overperforming his bar; Merkley is running under his (per Chris Cillizza this month, among others).

    Look, the traditional media in this culture are predominantly news vessels--you get out what you put in. There's not a whole lot of real journalism or substantive comparison going on in the state political media beyond the blogs; they simply take what the campaigns are giving them by and large.

    Which leads one to the salient conclusion that your media is what you make of it. Novick's commercials didn't just spring forth from the ground, and they certainly didn't begin airing in January by magic, at a time when many consultants said they were crazy to waste it that early. His coverage has continued to climb steadily since then, geometrically lately (250 newspapers carried the AP story on him, as far away as the Guardian UK that I saw!)--do you think the news agencies somehow heard of him through careful research? Hell no, Novick and his campaign and his supporters continue to press his bio and political profile everywhere they can.

    Maybe the news Merkley is making just isn't that positive, and Novick's is. Whatever the deal is, blaming the media won't help (as they've been doing for months; they are getting known as constant and whiny complainers at certain outlets, like a radio station in town I know). One place I can assure you Merkley's campaign is shaping up like Hillary's is that her complaints about everybody being nice to the guy most everybody likes, are not going to help her win any contests.

  • BCM (unverified)

    Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Mar 2, 2008 11:01:51 PM

    If Frohnmayer wants to be taken seriously as a candidate, he should run to win. For starters, that means re-registering and filing as a Democrat.

    I agree with your point, Kari. Frohnmayer would better serve himeself by running as a Dem, but his status as an Independent shouldn't intrinsically mean less media coverage.

    It just seems that in elections nationwide, third party candidates are systematically shut out of the media for no other reason than the fact that they are third party candidates. I realize that there must be some threshold for publicity; that the media cannot possibility cover every Tom, Dick, and Harry who are running for a senate seat. But, it would seem to me that a former Chair of the NEA with broad appeal would warrant more coverage than he has been getting.

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    But, it would seem to me that a former Chair of the NEA with broad appeal would warrant more coverage than he has been getting.

    Does he really have broad appeal? There's some name recognition - due mostly to his brother - but what has Frohnmayer done to demonstrate broad appeal? Has he raised any money? Does he have a list of supporters? Can he be bothered to send out any press releases, other than his announcement?

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    p.s. Once again: My firm built Jeff Merkley's website, but I speak only for myself.

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    Slightly off topic, but this comes from an Oregonian story on Gordon Smith at this weekend's Republican conference.

    U.S. Rep. Greg Walden told the crowd that he expects to see Republican gains in the state Legislature and in Oregon's Fifth Congressional District. Democrats aren't prepared, he said. "You can just feel the arrogance and complacency and ideological rigidness of the other side," Walden said. "That's going to lead to a turnaround of our party." Walden used much of his time to run down a litany of problems with Oregon, from failures to boost its colleges and universities to "Keep Portland Weird" bumper stickers that he said keep businesses from locating there. After, many in the audience speculated he was laying groundwork to run for governor in 2010. Former Gov. Vic Atiyeh, the last Republican governor in Oregon, liked what he heard. "I'm sitting here thinking, 'My God, what a great governor he'd be."

    I should say that both Merkley and Novick had good quotes in the story.

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    Excuse me, did the most public advocate for Frohnmayer just say that the best chance to have a spoiler-free Senate race is to nominate Novick?

    TJ - I have no inside information about that. It's conjecture. I handled earned media for his campaign around the launch, but have had very little contact with the campaign since then. As I said, I doubt that he will leave the race.

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    Posted by: LT | Mar 2, 2008 11:55:17 PM

    Gordon Smith won in 1996 because so many people voted 3rd party (there were multiple 3rd party candidates).

    I don't agree with that. Nationally, 3rd party wasn't nearly as popular among the grassroots as either 1992 or 2000. But more to the point, Smith did well in his loss to Wyden earlier that year and won the other seat later that year due, in part, to fall out from the Packwood fiasco. I was still in my right-of-center mode and while I agreed that Packwood had behaved like a world class cad, it pissed me off when out of state NOW members picketed his Portland office. By that point I'd left the GOP in disgust and was quite content as an NAV. But I voted for Smith in both of those election mostly because of my anger about how the Packwood thing had been handled. I wanted Oregonians to decide his fate!

  • Mike Schryver (unverified)

    Since I haven't noticed anything that I consider to be unfair coverage regarding Novick vs. Merkley, I'll make the point that I don't like this tactic of claiming that the other candidate gets more favorable coverage (unless it's really blatant). Clinton's been doing it recently, and the right wing has completely corrupted the media using that tactic.

    That said, I don't have a horse in this race. I think Novick and Merkley are both good candidates. What does bother me is the bickering and name-calling between the partisans for each. Every time someone puts down the other candidate, rather than extolling their candidate's virtues, it has the opposite effect on me of what the speaker intended.

  • dannyk (unverified)

    who's Gordon Smith?

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    Yeah those Keep Portland Weird stickers are really chilling industrial growth in Portland. That must be why SolarWorld AG placed it's enourmous new solar-cell chip plant way out in Hillsboro; that's almost on the moon ya know! (OK to be fair there was an empty fab available, but that could have been placed anywhere) Walden is a twit, and I hope for more media exposure about his role in the NRCC audit scandal. Regarding media coverage of the Senate race and other local campaigns, except for his press releases Smith gets little coverage of any kind in the majors, but I think once the primary has come and gone, the Dem Senate and other Statewide Noms will be coat-tailing with the Presidential Nom (especially during visits to Oregon) and getting lots of press. I can't see any of them being shy about discussing Slick Gordy's record of deceit, flip-floppery and Bush toadying.

  • trishka (unverified)

    LT, let me tell you a story.

    in october i held a house party for steve novick. it turned out to not be a good weekend for attendance, due to a lot of things going on in town that same day (e.g. a FOOTBALL game, can't compete with that). however, it was the day that worked best for the campaign so we made the best of it. i invited a ton of people, friends and colleagues &c, and a fair number of them let me know that they regretted not being able to come to the house party, BUT they were interested in finding out more about steve novick.

    so over the months i kept sending out emails to the group of people who had expressed interest, but hadn't had the chance to meet him at my house. mostly updates on the campaign, links to his ads, &c.

    then the week before last steve was in town again as part of his happy hour rounds that he's making across the state. i wasn't able to attend this happy hour due to previous commitments, but i sent the info out to everyone i knew that i could think of who might be interested in getting the chance to meet him & find out what he was about.

    so imagine my delight when i picked up our local newspaper the next day and read a quote from one of my friends that i had been emailing about steve, who stated unequivocally that having attended the event, he intended to wholeheartedly support steve's campaign. now maybe my friend would have gone to the happy hour anyway, maybe he would have read about it somewhere else, but i like to think that it was the consequense of my emailing him.

    so if you are worried that novick supporters aren't putting their time & energy into talking to their friends in the real world about steve and working to get them over to his side, you can rest assured that those efforts are, indeed, occurring, and successfully as well.

    my question for you is this: why do you only exhort novick supporters here at BO to do this? do you have reason to believe that merkley supporters are actively working the grassroots in their neighborhoods to get support for their candidate, while novick supporters aren't? if so, why do you believe this? what evidence do you base this on?

    i read lots of criticism from you directed at novick supporters for spending all their time blogging and not enough time working in the real world supporting their candidate, and virtually none of the same criticism levied at merkley supporters.

    can you tell me why that is?

  • Ben Hubbird (unverified)

    As someone who was one of those "same old partisans" but who has kind of disappeared lately due in large part to the nastiness and dishonesty of the conversation here, and on other blogs, I guess I'll chime in.

    TJ's comment covers most of the ground I wanted to, and I cover most of the rest of it in a diary at Loaded Orygun. But briefly, here is my point:

    There is no such thing as "fair" when you're talking about coverage of a campaign, there is only favorable or unfavorable. The idea that campaigns should get an even number of favorable and unfavorable stories is ridiculous. It is the job of the campaigns to get out favorable stories about their candidate and unfavorable stories about their opponent.

    Merkley supporters bemoaning "unfair" media coverage should look no further than the Merkley campaign. They've done a decent job getting out unfavorable stories about Novick, but have failed utterly to push a positive narrative about their candidate other than "_(Insert Politician)___ supports Merkley so you should too!"

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    I'm waiting to see whether BlueO will consider today's Novick news worthy of an "in the news" post.

  • trishka (unverified)

    yeah, that's what i came here to check on as well.

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    I second Trishka's question to you...rigor should apply to both sides, yes?

    And yes, Kitzhaber...endorsement...anyone?

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    Oh, yay, there it is...three cheers for John Kitzhaber.

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    There is no such thing as "fair" when you're talking about coverage of a campaign, there is only favorable or unfavorable.

    For the most part I agree with that.

    The idea that campaigns should get an even number of favorable and unfavorable stories is ridiculous.

    I agree with that too. But it's largely beside the point. Take Willamette Week's pieces about Merkley & Charter Schools. Rob Kremer feed that info to Nigel Jaquiss months ago. Yet Willy Week waited until just before the OEA endorsement to publish it.

    Here's the thing - and it goes directly to the issue of fairness or, if you like, journalistic ethics.

    The Merkley thing happened in 2004. Just one year before (2003) Steve Novick was the Legislative Liaison for the Oregon Department of Education. And one of the things Novick did in that capacity was to lobby the Oregon legislature on behalf of a Bill which would (and has) usurped the local school district's authority to reject a Charter School application.

    Now, we've got Merkley looking at a Charter School years ago but consistently voting for both public schools and union rights - two exceptionally important things to the OEA. One short year earlier Novick was lobbying for something which directly damaged the OEA's interests by allowing Charter Schools to bypass the local school district and be sponsored by the Oregon Board of Education (within the ODE's jurisdiction).

    Wouldn't that be - at the very least - as important as whether Merkley and his wife looked at sending their kids to a Charter School?

    And then there is NCLB which was foisted upon Oregon during Novick's tenure with the ODE. Where was that "strong left hook" then?

  • LT (unverified)

    "why do you only exhort novick supporters here at BO to do this?"

    Triska, I'm a former campaign volunteer coordinator. I've known lots of people who "talked a good game" but were never around to do the canvassing, putting out mailings, phoning, organizing events, etc. Obviously, you are not such a person.

    But while there are Novick fans like TJ and Stephanie saying lots of things against Merkley here, I don't see much in the way of criticizing something Steve Novick did several years ago as an example of why no one should vote Novick. And yes, I am one of those "heretics" who support the free speech rights of the state reps. from Dist. 33 and 36 to write a guest opinion on Blue Oregon. Some think they made unforgivable slights to the great Steve Novick. I think they merely "gave as good as they got". So, if I think they had the right to post that guest opinion, does the Novick campaign not want my vote because the guest opinion made unforgivable insults? Or are we all adults who believe in JFK's concept of the free marketplace of ideas? And if someone who reads but doesn't comment on BO thinks that was too long ago and campaigns should be about the future, does the Novick campaign want that person's vote?

    So this is my question: are the folks here who are gung ho for Novick actually going door to door or telephoning and saying "Merkley's people insulted us, please vote for Steve"? I hope not! I hope they are saying "Yes, our candidate is the one with the strong left hook, the one in the commercial opening a beer bottle, and we support him because we are friends of his and support his stand on........".

    Read my remarks on the Kitzhaber endorsement topic for a further answer. One of my voting issues is campaign tactics, another is looking for candidates with a vision for the future and a plan to carry it out.

  • Pat Malach (unverified)

    I don't see much in the way of criticizing something Steve Novick did several years ago as an example of why no one should vote Novick.

    Well, the Merkley campaign is currently pushing a story about a Novick/Nader connection that BlueOregon editor and Merkley supporter Jeff Alworth referred to as minutiae.

    So you're worng again, LT. You really should pay more attention. You've been getting that "Pay more attention" a lot lately haven't you? Maybe you ought listen to that advice for a change before you launch into your next long-winded lecture about that time you worked on Herbert Hoover's campaign.

  • LT (unverified)

    I don't see the post about Novick voting for Nader as an attack. I don't really care how he voted for President in 1996 (although it would be nice to hear Steve say what he learned from the US Senate campaign he worked on that year). I thought that Mapes post (which I had already read, but it failed to make an impression on me) was a non-story and the comments weren't a big deal.

    Pat, there are reasons I could vote for Steve (bright guy I have known a long time, Kitzhaber endorsement, his statement about poverty on Rev. Currie's website, among others) and reasons that give me pause. Sarcasm like yours is in the latter category.

  • Pat Malach (unverified)

    I don't see ...

    Finally we agree on something, but then you kept going.

  • LT (unverified)

    There has been some discussion here about whether Steve mentioned his work at ODE often enough. A web search shows sometimes he mentions it and sometimes he doesn't.

    One of the blogs (Dave Steves, I think) had this:

    Novick said he thinks his work for education, as legislative director for Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo, and as a strategist and campaigner to defeat tax-cutting, and union-weakening ballot measures, paid off. <<

    So now the ODE reference should be on his website along with that quote, IMO.

    Kevin: R vs. D margin in 1996 US Senate race: 52966 Total number of people who voted for someone other than Smith or Bruggere: 58524

    <h2>You decide if 3rd party voters had an effect on the 1996 general election, although it is true that Gordon ran a better organized, more common sense race in the fall than in January. And had a less appealing opponent.</h2>
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