GOP Watching Novick's Every Move

The Curry County Reporter has a commentary piece warning others not to write off Steve Novick after a campaign stop in Gold Beach:

For months, the Merkley campaign has rolled on like a kind of political juggernaut wrapping up endorsements and getting the help of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). He's wrapped up big union endorsements from the Oregon Nurses Association, AFSCME, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

He's got a huge war chest and has the Republicans scrambling to put up anti-Merkley websites. For a while, it appeared the Merkley campaign wrote off poor Steve Novick, as just another fringe candidate hoping to get his 15 minutes.

But Merkley and the DSCC were foolish to count Steve Novick out so soon. This is a guy who is used to being dealt a bad hand in life and overcoming adversity.

Novick was born with several birth defects, including a missing left hand and fibula bones in both legs. But he is also the guy who graduated from college at age 18 and from Harvard Law School at age 21.

Just a week before the liberal Oregon Education Association was about to vote on an endorsement of either Novick or Speaker Merkley, the Portland-area weekly newspaper Williamette Week broke the news that Merkley had decided to "check out" the Arthur Academy, a non-union charter school on behalf of their son. For Merkley who claimed to staunchly support teachers and their powerful unions, it was humiliating. Critics cried hypocrisy and Merkley deferred to his wife on the issue. The OEA endorsed Novick instead.

Perhaps the sting of that loss snapped Merkley out of his political complacency, or he got bullied by a guy probably half his size. Now, he's ticked off. Merkley has been so annoyed by the diminutive Novick that he's been testing negative ads in front of voters to see how much of an impact they'd have.

It appears that the NRSC is worried about Novick too:

But it's not only Jeff Merkley who's worried about Steve Novick. As the small crowd filed into the Panther's Den in Gold Beach to listen to Mr. Novick last week, a buzz filled the room about a "spy" from the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. Surely not! Not for wimpy little Steve Novick, right?

But it was true. In the far left corner of the room, and surrounded by a cadre of local Democratic women was "Tommy" and his little camcorder. They fed him veggie pizza and diet soda and peppered him with questions.

It turns out that Tommy was from Washington State and got the job videotaping events for the RSCC. Prior to that, he was washing cars.

Nevertheless he made the long drive from Portland to Gold Beach to sit in the corner of the room surrounded by Democrats eating pizza to videotape a guy that Jeff Merkley claims "isn't a serious candidate."

Tommy didn't get much, other than the traditional stump speech peppered with obligatory references to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Bobby Kennedy and the pot shots at Gordon Smith and President Bush. At least he got a good meal.

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • (Show?)

    The Golf Clap of the Day award goes to the Curry County Reporter.

    "This is a guy who is used to being dealt a bad hand in life and overcoming adversity."

    Excellent writing, folks.

    Your Pulitzer is just around the corner, I'm sure.

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    I don't see how sending a tracker to a single Novick event is tantamount to the GOP being worried about him. Seems like routine political strategy of covering one's bases.

    The GOP have been tracking Merkley for a long time now. And they've put up an anti-Merkley website.

    These two situations are not comparable.

    The GOP would be guilty of gross incompetence if they didn't at least keep tabs on the top two opposition candidates in any major race. That doesn't mean they are equally worried about both candidates though. It's simply prudent politicking. The tale of whom they are really worried about is revealed in whom they pay the most attention to. And that is unmistakably Jeff Merkley.

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    The GOP is covering their bases, as expected. And it makes sense to do this even though Steve has already made himself unelectable in the fall. They're probably hoping to use one of his attacks against Speaker Merkley to try to dissuade progressives from voting for him (and against Smith) in the general.

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    there's an anti Novick site as well. And I would think this is afirst sighting of a tracker, not the last.

    I agree with the thrust of the article, but I don't think all of it's accurate. In no one's objective estimation does Merkley have a massive warchest (although Smith does), even compared to Novick. And I don't think the OEA vote had much to do with the vote. I think it was likely the speeches and overall sentiment in general. They like the cut of Steve's jib!

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    We don't let the Republicans decide who our candidate is. I rather wish they had not clued in to Steve quite so soon, as later awareness on their part would have made more difficulty for them after he is nominated, but it's a free country, and one thing I've figured out about Steve is that he is fearless and will talk to just about anyone.

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    LOL - anyone who thinks that either major party EVER blithly goes through a primary season without keeping a constant eye on how the opposition candidates are faring is hopelessly clueless.

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    sorry, that should say the vote didn't have much to do with the charter schools issue.

  • jaybeat (unverified)

    Posted by: Steve Maurer | Apr 4, 2008 11:00:32 AM

    "Steve has already made himself unelectable in the fall."

    While I do NOT have a horse in this race (or a dog in this fight, or cat in this catbox, or whatever the metaphor is), I am curious as to what, if anything, might be behind such a flip and dismissive comment. (Other than the obvious preference for the other candidate.)

    Care to enlighten us, Steve?

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)

    This guy's got a great gig, following Steve Novick around. Do folks really get paid to do things like this? What fun!

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    jaybeat: Care to enlighten us, Steve?

    I already have in previous posts, but in a nutshell, Mr. Novick has recently come out in favor of blanket across the board tax increases. Not just for the wealthy, but for middle and poor taxpayers as well. Speaker Merkley has come out in favor of tax increases for people making more than $150,000 dollars a year.

    We can argue all night long about whose tax policy more closely matches the progressive ideal, but from a sheer practical matter of politics, Steve has given Senator Smith a huge weapon to use against himself.

  • Bridget (unverified)

    Steve Novick did not come out in favor of blanket across the board tax increases.

    He said that he wants to tax capital gains at the same rate as earned wages and to remove the social security tax cap (currently set at $100k).

    You make it sound like Steve Novick is shouting from the rooftops "Tax the poor! Tax the middle class! Tax everybody! Tax them now!"

  • Kev (unverified)

    The Rs are many things, but stupid with campaign dollars is typically not one of those things.

    If they are devoting a staff person to track Novick, it's because they have a poll of Democrat primary voters in-hand that says Novick is either beating or running very close to Merkley.

    I don't know why that should be terribly shocking. As nice and smart a guy as Merkley is, he has been Speaker for only 15 months, and the Legislature isn't exactly the most well-regarded institution in the state.

    That and Oregon voters are a notoriously quirky bunch, it shouldn't be too surprising that they would favor the non-establishment candidate.

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    Adjusting tax rates to that of a higher schedule, Bridget, is the same thing as increasing them. For all but the smallest investments, this amounts to a tax increase.

    Now sure, Steve isn't trumpeting his overwhelmingly unpopular opinion from the rooftops. But if he did win the primary, it certainly would feature prominently in GOP attack ads against him. Attack ads for which he would have no answer - because it is true.

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    It's interesting that the GOP is tracking Novick (and the website as TJ notes) but I actually don't think it's anything new. I talked with the guy tracking Merkley back in October and he said that Smith's campaign was also tracking Novick.

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)

    Steve has given Senator Smith a huge weapon to use against himself

    Smith has not shown himself to be any different than any other Republican with their parasitic "tax the next generations" policies. Like any good Respublican he wants to leave his kids as much tax burden as possible.

  • John Galt (unverified)

    First off, I love that BlueOregon made sure to highlight the section in the article about Tommy washing cars, but not the part about him being a college graduate. Second of all the political infighting with comments such as: "I don't see how sending a tracker to a single Novick event is tantamount to the GOP being worried about him," is laughable. I can almost guarantee you that they have had a 'spy' at most of his events leading up to this.

  • Bridget (unverified)

    An "across-the-board" tax increase means that everybody has their taxes increased. Everybody-> across the board.

    There are many taxpayers who don't have capital gains, because their investments are in their 401ks, etc.

    There are many taxpayers who don't have capital gains because they don't have investments.

    It's not an across-the-board increase. It's a specific increase on capital gains and social security.

    I think that the GOP is going to paint with a broad-stroke, regardless of the candidate. Their "No to Novick" website says, "As tax happy as Merkley, just funnier"

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    We can argue all night long about whose tax policy more closely matches the progressive ideal, but from a sheer practical matter of politics, Steve has given Senator Smith a huge weapon to use against himself.

    And some of us might argue all night long that Jeff Merkley was really against the Iraq war from the beginning, but as a sheer practical matter of politics, by voting for HR2 Jeff has given Senator Smith a huge weapon to use against himself.

    I'm just sayin'.

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    One of several fatal flaws in your rational, Stephanie, is that Senator Smith has framed himself as opposed (sorta) to the war too. There is no conceivable scenario under which he could benefit by trying to use the alleged weapon you speak of. His own record would be the proverbial Millstone around his neck if he were to attempt such a foolhardy tactic. As it is he's incredibly vulnerable on the issue because of his outspoken support for McCain. The last thing he'll want to do is to give Merkley a sweet opening to pound him into the ground on the subject.

    Gordon Smith may be many things, but politically suicidal isn't one of them. I'm certain that you are already aware of that reality. Which begs the real purpose of your trotting out this absurd HR2 meme.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)

    I love the petty little shots that "Democrats" take here against Novick. Because he thinks that capital gains should be taxed like regular income he's declared "unelectable." Give me a break. Of course capital gains should be taxed their regular income. What's the big deal in saying so? That doesn't mean you want to soak the poor just because they have a share of stock or two.

    With Merkley's money and machine advantages he should be crushing Novick in the polls. Novick is winning? Oh, I forgot. It could be because he's the type of amazing talent that requires knee-capping to defeat.

    Some of you Novick-haters resemble your fellow Oregonian, Tonya Harding, more and more every day.

  • LT (unverified)

    Given what day this is, I want to interject some reality into this debate. It is not hateful to remind people here that those who worry about issues important in their own lives: development on a local flood plain putting a neighborhood at greater danger of flooding (major article in our local paper) or those who are grateful to have an interview for a part time job (may not be full time, but better than no job at all), those without health insurance, those with a loved one serving in Iraq or recently returned, have a right to say those are the most important issues to them. And if they don't really care about the relative merits of corn based ethanol vs. sugar based ethanol, and wonder why it was brought up in the US Senate debate today, they have that right.

    Those of us old enough to still have vivid memories of 1968 know the difference between a politician speaking from the heart and one who uses "campaign messaging" done by consultants or campaign staffers.

    It was quite obvious on Wednesday at Marion Demoforum that Kurt Schrader was speaking from the heart, and it will be interesting to see if Steve Marks does as well next Wednesday.

    In Steve's closing at the Portland City Club debate he mentioned Robt. F. Kennedy. But to paraphrase the late great Lloyd Bentsen,

    "I followed the career of Bobby Kennedy, many of my generation were inspired to a life of politics because of Bobby Kennedy, and Steve Novick, you are no Bobby Kennedy!".

    To get a sense of why even those of us who were Eugene McCarthy college students admired what RFK did 40 years ago today, read this Steve Duin column:

    Here is one paragraph to give a sense of the column:

    There was the April night in Indianapolis when Kennedy climbed atop a flatbed truck and broke the news about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. "In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States," he said during a five-minute speech in which he never glanced at the notes in his hands, "it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in."

    What kind of a nation are we? Are we the kind of people who admire someone like Kurt Schrader talking about ending the war AND caring for the veterans who served there?

    Or are we a nation stuck in an endless loop where nothing matters more than how Jeff Merkley voted on HR 2 in 2003 and how dare 2 state reps spring to his defense when Steve Novick brought it up? And of course the person who has never held legislative office is supposed to be the superior candidate because we should take it on faith how he would have reacted in the context of what was going on in 2003 when that resolution debate took place?

    Stephanie and the gang, suppose Steve wins the primary. Do you really expect those who thought there was far too much attention paid to an obscure 2003 resolution to volunteer for Steve's campaign? You may think nothing is more important than the US Senate race. But in my area there are 2 really dandy state rep. races, not to mention Congress, presidency, etc.

    Or does it make me a "Novick hater" because I am glad Steve finally admitted some of his remarks were over the top?

    Long before anyone heard of Jeff Merkley or Steve Novick, lots of people were raised with the idea "you never get a second chance to make a first impression". And if you talk to people who work with kids (parents, teachers, youth group advisors, people who supervise playgrounds, whatever) you are likely to encounter people who impress on the children in their care that actions have consequences. But no one should have ever taken offense at anything Steve said or what he or his campaign did?

    Yes, we know you think it is the most awful thing in the world that we don't all say "Merkley, Nolan and Greenlick should be ashamed of themselves for not saying Novick is the greatest candidate in our lifetime".

    But guess what? Everyone in the City Club audience this noon, and anyone who heard the debate on the radio, has the right to form individual impressions of the US Senate candidates. And if they were unimpressed with either or both candidates, if they thought one candidate was great and the other out of line, no blog post will change that. And when it comes to conversations among friends, no one on a blog can possibly know what is said in those conversations.

  • Bill (unverified)

    I don't think the article said that that was the the first time they had someone there, only that "Tommy" was present. It just seemed odd to bring a guy that far to tape something so pun intended.

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    kevin must have a short memory; it was explained repeatedly. Smith says "everybody evolved on their view of the war. Why, even my opponent praised the President and the war. " merkley's response will be, well I was just supporting the troops when I voted that way. And Smith will say, yeah...ME TOO!

    It's a problem becuase Smith can muddy the issue of the war, and take it away as a weapon. No such problem on the war exists for Novick. Far from being a trap for Smith, Merkley's vote provides a lifeline to explain away his votes like Merkley explains his away.

  • LT (unverified)

    "It's a problem becuase Smith can muddy the issue of the war, and take it away as a weapon. No such problem on the war exists for Novick. Far from being a trap for Smith, Merkley's vote provides a lifeline to explain away his votes like Merkley explains his away. "

    OK, fine, if you are still debating how the war started.

    But what does this really mean to someone who says "My son is on his 3rd tour of duty. I don't care about how the war started, I want to know when my son will come home"?

    Or does nothing matter except how the war started?

  • Morgan (unverified)

    Hey's idiotic posts by turpidjoe and Kevin the Kraptacular poster.

    Keep it up boys...enlighten us all!!!!

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    LT, please, stop with the strawmen. No one is saying the things you are setting up.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)

    So now Novick can't cite Robert F. Kennedy without some fellow "Democrat" (LT in this case) saying "you're no Robert F. Kennedy."

    Pathetic. Novick is a guy who has devoted virtually his entire career to setting aside his Harvard-trained ability to make zillions of dollars a year so that he can serve the interests of the middle class and working class Americans. Without a doubt, he has earned in the bottom ten percent of our law school class. And yet, every year, on the anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's birthday, the dude flies out from Oregon to Washington D.C. at his own expense to give a tribute to Robert F. Kennedy at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.

    The guy loves Kennedy, tries to emulate him, and DOES emulate him more than any other member of our class at Harvard. And now I've got to read someone knee-cap him with pedestrian, second-grade rhetoric like "you're no Robert F. Kennedy."

    Is this the kind of cess-pool Blue Oregon has become. Steve Novick is a wonderful person. I don't know much about Jeff Merkely, but I know Novick better than any of you people, and I would vouch for this guy with my life. If you think Merkley is amazing too, then vote for him. BUT STOP YOUR KARL ROVE RHETORIC ABOUT A FELLOW DEMOCRAT.

    Just stop. You don't deserve to have Steve Novick as your Senator. Is he Robert F. Kennedy? No. There has been no equal of Robert F. Kennedy in American politics since the man died forty years ago. If this is the standard to which you're going to hold politicians, then just shut down the government right now, you'll be electing nobody.

    And by the way, I have disagreed with Steve here on multiple occasions. I said that he praised Hillary too much. I said that I disagree with him on capital punishment. I'm not some too-bit operative who feels the need to spin everything for some politician. But I shouldn't have to read my dear friend insulted so much by fellow Democrat. If the question is whether Novick is electable, I give you one answer: Paul Wellstone. Now stop with the negativity, and tell us why Merkley is half the man that Novick is. Try to raise Merkley up. Not tear Novick down. Either that, or just shut up and vote Republican.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)

    OK. So I've taken my meds and calmed down.

    But really, can we concentrate the negativity on Smith, and focus on the two Democrats' strengths instead?

  • LT (unverified)

    The strength of Speaker Merkley is just that---he's the Speaker of the Oregon House, so there goes the experience argument---Gordon Smith was Oregon St. Sen. President when elected.

    There are more folks saying to their friends that they had hoped for a more inspiring US Senate primary than what happened, and blaming both equally more than saying one candidate is perfect and the other is beyond redemption.

    Steve Novick and Hillary Clinton are very bright people who in the opinion of some people have made some poor decisions about how to run their campaigns. But just as Hillary rose in my estimation these last few days as she publicly remembered what happened 40 years ago, the contrast with Steve Novick became very clear. Maybe part of it is generational.

    As a 45 year old, he would not be expected to have a clear memory of what was happening in the news when he was 5. But unlike Obama, who clearly understands what happened and has spoken about it, Steve Novick doesn't seem to realize what made Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King so inspiring---why people still can get choked up about what happened 40 years ago.

    What I mean about Steve being no Robt. Kennedy is not that he isn't a very bright Democrat, passionately working for good causes. It is that I don't see Steve doing what RFK did 40 years ago yesterday.

    has the speech and the story of what happened that day.

    Maybe his friends can imagine him doing something like that, but I can't.

    This is 2008, and not only is Nancy Pelosi the first woman Speaker, but Cong. James Clyburn is the first black House Majority Whip. He was on TV last night talking about meeting Martin Luther King after having done a book report in college on one of his books. He suggested more people should read King's writings, incl. Letter from Birmingham Jail. One quote from that letter is "what affects one directly affects all indirectly".

    What some here don't seem to understand is that the memorials to 40 years ago remind us how things used to be. Not only was technology limited (RFK had to tell the crowd in Indianapolis that MLK had been shot because they would have had no way of knowing otherwise---and his appeal for calm meant Indianapolis was not a city hit by riots after April 4, 2008), but people were more civil back then.

    Back then, we had a real sense when politicians were speaking from the heart, and whether they were in politics to advance the common good or if they were just in it for themselves.

    That has been a common theme in debates of the last couple decades: are campaigns about the voters (in which case the candidate that scores well on a poll question like "cares about people like me, understands my problems" will do very well), or is a campaign really just about the candidate and the consultants working on the campaign. Is it a candidate-centered race, or a voter centered races? One reason Ron Wyden won in Jan. 1996 reclaiming Wayne Morse's old seat from the man who had defeated Morse in 1968 is that Wyden did a voter-centered campaign and Smith inflicted those "we're all real tired of career politicians" ads on us ad nauseum.

    Seems to me 40 years ago we had more optimism and less cynicism when MLK and RFK were still alive. Perhaps that is what was taken from us by one gunshot on April 4 1968 and another in June at a victory rally in the Ambassador Hotel in LA after the California primary.

    I can't blame anyone without a memory of those times if they don't understand why older people get all misty eyed and start looking for the optimism and inspiration they had back then.

    But I do know that Gordon Smith, if he turns on his slick side, has the kind of manners and people skills many of us were brought up with as we were teenagers and then college students in the 1960s. Including hearing the saying over and over again about the need for polite language in conversation because "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar".

    There are voters in this state who, when confronted by a candidate with that sort of manners (regardless of party--look at Kitzhaber vs. Denny Smith for Gov. 1994) with someone who strikes them as everything from acerbic to nasty will choose the person with good manners. I am NOT saying Steve is as nasty as Denny Smith, but I am saying his campaign doesn't seem to like feedback which is given as constructive criticism but is taken as an all out attack on their perfect Steve. It does not gain votes to say that anyone even implying Steve might have made any mistakes this year is a "Merkleyite". People talk among themselves about the various campaign tactics, but if you folks don't want to know about that, not my problem.

    Now, if someone really wants an acerbic candidate, Steve Novick is your guy. If he's a friend, nothing I have said should stop you from spending all your spare time on the Novick campaign from now until the ballots are due in May.

    Bobby Kennedy DID have an acrebic side, but not on April 4, 1968.

    And for those of us who were looking for an inspiring candidate (not that Merkley so far meets that standard very well either--so far I have been more inspired by Obama for President or even the one speech I have seen from Kurt Schrader running for Congress ), people who grieve the loss of Martin Luther King are not going to be won over by someone who is quoted in today's Oregonian,

    "Novick countered that when he criticizes others -- even those in his own party -- it's because he disagrees with them on policy issues.....................

    Sometimes, I've used rather over-the-top language," Novick said.

    In an interview after the debate, he was more apologetic. "I'm going to be more careful about what I say about people in public life," he said, "because they're real people and they have feelings, too."

    Good for Steve for finally realizing that other people have feelings. That shows the personal courage to admit a mistake.

    Folks, 40 years ago there were such policy and background differences between Eugene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, and Hubert Humphrey that any college activist from back then could still recite them today. But they were generally more diplomatic in their rhetoric. AND there were no arguments in 1968 about who did or didn't vote a particular way on the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution--concerns were about what was going on that year.

    If someone is trying to follow in the RFK footsteps, that is admirable. But RFK had alienated a lot of people from 1960-1968, which is why the April 4 speech came as such an inspiring moment to so many who were not his biggest fans.

    I have been called "not a real Democrat" for something as minor as having voted in the minority on a State Central Comm. resolution in 1985----long before the world had heard of Karl Rove.

    I believe in stating the affirmative rather than the negative whenever possible. So I suggest the slogan, "Vote for Novick, the acerbic candidate".

    Here's the definition: a·cer·bic
    –adjective 1. sour or astringent in taste: Lemon juice is acerbic.
    2. harsh or severe, as of temper or expression: acerbic criticism.

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