Video: Novick's eloquent, graceful exit

Charlie Burr

Pic_stevestanding_272As usual, Steve Duin gets it just about exactly right:

At the bittersweet end of an audacious campaign, Steve Novick gave the most entertaining and uplifting concession speech I've ever heard.

I've been in a lot of hotel ballrooms when pathetic candidates heard the death rattle they so richly deserved, and campaign staff and the obligatory lobbyists, embarrassed to be seen with one another, melted into the nearest bars. That was not the mood at the Benson Tuesday night when Gov. John Kitzhaber introduced Novick, even as the jukebox cranked out, "I Fought the Law and the Law Won."

With 30 of his most fervent supporters, including his parents and girlfriend, on the stage behind him, Novick received an electric ovation, prompting him to quote an ol' Mo Udall line: "If this goes on much longer, I might have to accept the nomination.

If you saw just the brief clip on TV Tuesday night, it's worth hearing Steve's remarks in their entirety. Gracious. Brilliant. And of course, totally heartfelt.

Part one:

Part two:

Part three:

Part four:

Again from Steve Duin:

Novick expressed the hope that his supporters would be proud of being part of a campaign that would "go down in history with the great losers of all time ... like the 1975 Boston Red Sox." Underdog campaigns like his, Novick reminded a room still filled with several hundred supporters, are "a self-selective community. You didn't join this campaign out of resignation, because it was what you had to do."

No, as Kitzhaber said, people supported Novick because he "had a message, a heart and a brand," or everything that Merkley lacks. And they remained with him to the end.

Novick likened his supporters to "a group of guerrillas who came down from the mountains and almost took out the establishment. This group made me feel like Castro. The young Castro."

And he expressed the hope that in years to come, those guerrillas -- whose efforts helped Novick carry Multnomah County and the city of Portland -- would still feel a bond with one another "when you realize you were both for Novick in 2008."

Like every Novick supporter I know, I am incredibly proud to have played a small role in Novick's campaign. I am physically and emotionally exhausted from the primary, but wouldn't change a thing. I feel every bit as much of a sense of accomplishment as I do for my Obama work here and in Washington.

This year, we're going to elect a new president and at long last retire Gordon Smith. I'm excited for the fall campaign. But I am deeply thankful to have had the opportunity to play a minor role in one of the great campaigns of the last decade. It's one of those efforts we'll always remember.

Steve and his hard-working staff -- as well as his loyal band of supporters -- should take pride in what they accomplished. I know I do.

  • Young Castro (unverified)

    The people at MTV News "groaned" Wednesday morning as well.

  • LT (unverified)

    "Steve and his hard-working staff -- as well as his loyal band of supporters -- should take pride in what they accomplished. I know I do. "

    Everyone on that campaign deserves to be proud of what they did, but they should also take a serious look at the county by county results.

    Some of us have been railing for decades at the concept that what appeals to folks in the Portland area will appeal around the state. There have been numerous conversations along that line here almost as long as BO has existed.

    I have been to many election night parties in my life. Good choice of music to play on Kitzhaber introducing Novick.

    However, you folks are kidding yourselves if you think this is the first time a "band of brothers" (read that speech in Shakespeare's Henry V or rent the movie--it is a truly stirring speech) election night defeat in Oregon history. Perhaps in the 21st century, but far from the first in the lifetime of people Charlie's age. This was one reason why the Kitzhaber endorsement resonated better than the AuCoin endorsement. I was at the 1992 Lonsdale election night party in Portland (some people came from quite a ways away, incl. one woman whose sister drove so they could come and she could still go to work the next day).

    It is an ironic twist of fate that 12 years after DSCC candidate Bruggere defeated Lonsdale, Rust, and Dwyer in the US Senate primary, a guy who worked for the Bruggere campaign ran an insurgent campaign. If any of you Novick folk are treated as "you OWE us your total support without asking questions" as those of us who had the gall to be friends of great men like Lonsdale and Rust were treated in 1996, be sure to tell whatever idiot treats you like that "been there, done that, it doesn't work----answer my question or I've got this other campaign which is much more important".

    But I can tell you that out here in downstate Oregon, "standing up for the little guy" sounded to many of us more like theory than like a campaign which really understands the day to day life of the welder, the technician, the child care worker, the medical worker, retail worker, the single mother lucky to have a job.

    I hope we can defeat Gordon Smith. He never should have won in the fist place. But election results are cold hard facts, and the truth is Steve didn't play very well out in the rest of the state.

    I say this not as a "Merkleyite" (whatever that means) but as someone who found the 5th Cong. District primary more inspiring than anything I heard from any 2008 US Senate candidate. It may not have been the campaign's attention, but some of the message from the Novick movement was "Novick is the most inspirational candidate EVER, and there is something wrong from people who say otherwise!". Sorry folks, I was more impressed by Kurt Schrader (esp. after hearing him speak at Demoforum) than ANY US Senate candidate---does that make me some kind of subversive, or "centrist" or some other name? My first Democratic campaign was a legislative race in 1976. If I don't hold the same views as young people in Portland, that is their problem, not mine!

    I understand there are Novick supporters who find him the most inspiring candidate in their lifetime. They have that right. Please just be aware there are folks (incl. long time Democratic activists) who don't share that impression.

  • James X. (unverified)

    Thank you very much for posting this. I had only seen the very beginning before TV coverage cut out to cover the rest of the news happening that night, and had just caught stuff like, "The man stuck it to us, look at what they had to throw at us, they had hundreds of thousands of dollars of out-of-state money funneled to them from the national powers that be, our opponent mortgaged one of his houses," etc. Later, after showing some of Merkley's enthusiastic victory speech, they dipped back in to Novick's, which I was surprised was still going on, and the cheers at Merkley's party were suddenly contrasted with "A year ago, my family lost their baby brother," and I felt really bad, I thought the whole long speech had devolved into this tragic funeral mass, and I was really surprised and concerned at how depressed he and his supporters had become. I had a seriously warped impression of the speech, and I was a little incredulous when Novick supporters were talking about how gracious and wonderful it was, but I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want to further antagonize. Needless to say, I'm very glad that now I have a much more complete view of the speech, though my impression of Novick's graciousness and mood had already changed dramatically once he had talked on Thursday. I'm just glad we're not all fighting anymore.

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    "I'm very glad that now I have a much more complete view of the speech, though my impression of Novick's graciousness and mood had already changed dramatically once he had talked on Thursday. I'm just glad we're not all fighting anymore."

    Steve's good humor and sportsmanship (not to mention political intelligence) don't surprise me at all. He doesn't get beaten very often, but when he does he stands up like a man. I say political intelligence, because from the reaction to his appearance on Thursday he has done himself enormous good as a potential candidate for nearly whatever next time, and went out with a good taste in people's mouths (LT and the brigade of confusion excepted I guess.)

    I never understood the whole "in it for himself, not a good Democrat" attack; I think that was what bothered many Novick supporters the most. He's done so much to support Democratic efforts in this state, it would have been out of character for him not to do the right thing.

    And anyway, it's pretty damn funny.

  • Tom Cox (unverified)

    I have to agree with Steve Novick - we both think he's a lot like Castro.

  • dyspeptic (unverified)

    Burr, as always statesman-like, intelligent, complete and savvy. Thanks for the above.

    The smears against Novick were all pure envy, through and through. It is the faction of supposed Democrats who are actually royalists.

    Note we now have the same people who claimed Novick's cynical blog comments of years ago disqualified him saying that Hillary's dastardly and calculated pronouncements in front of the mics and cameras in the course of her campaign should be ignored. Like they say in the barnyard, "Some animals are more equal than others."

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    I can't tell you how many people have said to me over the past few days that they expect Steve to be back in the fight for another elected position very soon. His passion, energy, humor and ability to speak truth to power will serve him well wherever he ends up, and I will be right behind him.

    Onward & upward, as they say.

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)

    Few knew that a year ago this month Steve and the rest of his family were morning the death of his brother Mischa - a huge loss to lots of us. They inherited the same smile, and I can see Mischa smiling at how well Steve did. I bet Steve can too.

  • (Show?)

    If you all don't want him, I'm sure we could find room (and a leadership position) here in Florida for another Pirate...

  • Angela (unverified)

    I liked Steve, primarily because I am a biologist and know he has fought hard for the environment. I understand that his style may not suit everyone, but he is damn smart and I'm proud of him and hope he runs for office again. I will transfer my support to Merkley and support him with enthusiasm even though I am in Washington state and can't vote. I am a native Oregonian and want Gordon Smith OUT. Let's do it!!!

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    I am very, very proud of Steve, and the campaign he ran, and having had a tiny part in it, and I am humbled by his gratitude.

    I'm more than twice the recommended age for this kind of thing, but I'm so glad that once in my life I got swept up in something that wonderful. I couldn't cry during Steve's speech because I was too busy laughing. I'm especially grateful for that. But the time since then hasn't been too easy.

    Yesterday Steve called me, said he was OK, and asked me how I was doing. I told him I was despondent, sad, angry, bitter, and cranky, but that in fairness, only the first four are unusual for me. Then we both laughed.

    oh, and LT, please just put a cork in it. Thank you.

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    Novick ran a very good campaign, and all his supporters should be proud of running the race they did. I know I was on the other side of things this time around, but I do hope I get a chance to vote for Novick in the future.

  • LT (unverified)

    Stephanie, glad you and Steve remain close. I've been on that side of the equation. You and I may never meet, but I am glad you got swept up in the excitement of such a campaign. Now comes what a friend from a 1980s primary loss described, "returning to normal life, whatever that is".

    I have found that the best cure for what Stephanie feels is keeping in touch with friends from the campaign and looking towards the future. I do wish Steve well in the future, but even if I never commented here again, that wouldn't change how hard I know it is to deal with such a loss.

    Just count your blessings you don't have to live through a recount.

  • Mike Tewfik (unverified)

    I've never given money to a candidate before Steve and I don't regret it a bit!

    You want to talk about inspiration - you don't have to go out of our great state. Novick's the real deal and I'm waiting for the next opportunity to contribute to his campaign both monetarily and personally.

  • Libertarian Guy (unverified)

    Sorry Tom Cox, but Steve is much better at what he does than you'll ever be. While I don't agree with him most of the time, at least he is honest about where he stands. The Repugnicans need you a bunch.

  • LT (unverified)

    I agree with Libertarian Guy, "Sorry Tom Cox, but Steve is much better at what he does than you'll ever be. While I don't agree with him most of the time, at least he is honest about where he stands."

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    Some of us have been railing for decades at the concept that what appeals to folks in the Portland area will appeal around the state.

    This doesn't even make sense. The results from the election don't make the case that Novick didn't have any appeal outside of Portland, just that -- among Democrats -- more people voted for Democrat Jeff Merkley than voted for Democrat Steve Novick. In other words, they either preferred Merkley over Novick or they hadn't ever heard of Novick.

    Merkley had appeal to lots of people in Portland, LT. His share of the county's vote was over 40%. He's even a legislator from Portland, last I heard. That sort of disproves the "if it appeals to Portland it won't appeal to the rest of the state" theory.

    What you really ought to look at is the amount of support Candy Neville got. She ran largely on an anti-war platform, and got about 7% of the vote overall, but the only counties where she scored less than that average were Benton, Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington, and Wheeler. In every other county she scored higher than her statewide average. In fact, she got more than 10% of the vote in Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, and Wallowa. More than 37,500 votes.

  • Kathleen Gardipee (unverified)

    Steve: You should be so proud of this campaign. Take a vacation and relax for awhile and then get back to business. We are not going to let you off the "hook." Oregon needs you and your brand of "truthiness."

  • Dan (unverified)

    Candy Neville was an embarrassment to that primary. There are a lot of folks who are much more knowledgeable about the war both personally and legislatively/academically who are just as anti-war as Candy is. The difference is that their egos didn't get carried away on a one issue platform that is ultimately more dependent on the Presidential results than anything. Novick and even Merkley, despite that lame house bill of his, would have been able to carry as much weight in Washington, if not more (both much are much more experienced than Neville) than she would have.

    She was a one issue broken record and a spoiler.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)

    Will Mr. Chisholm stand up and apologize for his anti-Novick Web site?

  • Pat Malach (unverified)

    Maybe he should donate the money he made from that embarrassment to some charity or something.

    How about Steve Novick's next campaign?

  • roxanne bruns (unverified)

    Steve, Three words: First District Primary. 2010 my friend!

  • LT (unverified)

    Great idea, Roxanne!

    He has the army of supporters, would have 2 years to raise money, and his friends can get together and figure out what worked where, what worked in some areas but not others, etc.

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