48 Hours: The End of My Never-Really-Started Political Career

Steve Novick

Having made myself look thoroughly ridiculous by running a 6-hour campaign for County Chair, and being now thoroughly convinced that I will never hold elected office, I have decided that I might as well at least amuse everyone by telling my friends (and enemies) exactly what my role has been in the 48-hour kerfuffle that (as his longtime aide Stacey Dycus put it) Ben Westlund would so much have enjoyed having caused. (Warning: This is really long, quite self-indulgent, and will probably only really amuse people who really like me or really hate me, so that limits the readership dramatically, but I figure I have a few big fans and sworn enemies out there. The only person who is required to read it in full is Steve Duin.)

Monday morning – I start getting calls from pretty serious people telling me to run for Treasurer. I think it would be a great job but I don’t have much stomach for thinking about running a day after Ben died, and I also can’t figure out how I would support myself during an 8-month primary and general election campaign, given that I have no money whatsoever (having drained my savings in the Senate race). I conclude, however, that I can’t turn down the opportunity – and the entreaties of my would-be supporters - unless the Governor appoints someone else really good: someone who could pull together a good campaign quickly, and whom the progressive community could rally behind. So I called a friend in the Governor’s office and tell him that – mentioning Ted Wheeler as one of the other, rally-behind alternatives. (I did say I’d like the appointment, but I didn’t really expect the Governor to give it to me: I think he has some respect for me, but we’re not exactly tight.) (And yes I did think of the fact that that would open up Wheeler’s job, though it also occurred to me that good friends of mine might also be interested.)

Monday afternoon and evening – I get more and more calls from people encouraging me to run for Treasurer. I start thinking about all the things you could do with that job. You could use the State’s role as a major shareholder in major corporations to fight (along with other pension funds) against CEO compensation practices that provide distorting incentives and result in extravagant pay. You could step up Ben’s efforts to use some of the State’s portfolio to invest in jobs in Oregon. You could join with other progressive Treasurers to promote Wall Street reform to protect investors and consumers from fraud and future meltdowns. You could follow in the footsteps of California’s activist Treasurer Phil Angelides and invest in socially and environmentally conscious businesses, in environmental businesses and technologies, in inner-city and underserved communities. (I wasn’t sure whether Oregon laws governing investments were more limiting than California’s, but if under current Oregon law you couldn’t do those things you could ask the Legislature to change the law.) It also occurs to me that if the Republican really is Chris Telfer, it might not be that hard a general election; I might not have to run full-time, could do a little paying work and scrape by

Monday 6 p.m.: I have come all the way around to hoping the Governor appoints somebody I would be comfortable running against. Specifically, I hope he appoints Greg Macpherson, partly because Greg and I were supposed to run against each other for State Rep in 2002, until our district was abolished and mostly given to Caroline Tomei in redistricting. Voters were deprived of the showdown between Greg ‘Downtown Corporate Lawyer’ Macpherson and Steve ‘Environmental Lawyer and Activist’ Novick; now the time has finally come. (You could also think of it as the consolation race for the ’08 statewide primary losers’ bracket.) I call my friend in the Governor’s office and leave a message – “I’ve changed my mind; DON’T try to find a consensus candidate; either appoint me or give me someone to run against.”

Tuesday morning: Hear that Chair Wheeler HAS been appointed. I don’t know that mild-mannered Ted will exactly be the scourge of Wall Street, but maybe he could be (Anna Griffin, will you tell him you’re counting on it?), and it would be hard to run against him after proposing him as a possible consensus choice. I’m deflated, but then very quickly start thinking that as County Chair, I would have a chance (working with the State and the City) to work on refining our ability to use our collective public safety resources most effectively. We could implement Judge Michael Marcus’ evidence-based sentencing ideas. We could fight for additional alcohol and drug treatment money from a beer and wine tax increase. (I could tell the legislators ‘I busted my butt for you on 66 and 67, and we won! – now, for the love of God, will you finally put Paul Romain in his place?’) We could (following a Judge Marcus idea) ask the DA’s office to keep track, for each assistant DA, of the recidivism rates of the defendants referred to that ADA, and see if the rates vary and if that can be correlated with differences in the ADAs’ approaches to resolving some kinds of cases, suggesting possible policy options. I could try to build the new courthouse that we desperately need. (In the bond campaign we could run the ad I envisioned years ago: “WHY SGHOULD YOU CARE THAT THE MULTNOMAH COUNTY COURTHOUSE ISN’T EARTHQUAKE PROOF? BECAUSE AT ANY MOMENT YOU COULD BE CALLED FOR JURY DUTY!” – with a picture of someone entering a door that says “JURORS” and then having the roof fall in.) I could help get Ron Wyden and the rest of the Federal delegation to convince their colleagues to change the Medicaid laws so people in custody are still eligible for Federal Medicaid. (Now, as soon as the county takes someone into custody, they have to start paying for their health care – a huge expense.) I could help lobby the Federal delegation, and help them lobby their colleagues, to extend the stimulus, by painting for them, and for the public, the dire picture of what happens at the local level (in every county, not just in Oregon, but in America) if it is not extended. And I could fight for property tax reform that ends the incredible neighborhood-to-neighborhood inequities created by Meaure 47/50, and raises some money to boot.

Also, I’d have my chance to tell the wonderful, but painfully politically correct people who run the Library that the “Everybody Reads” book for the year doesn’t ALWAYS have to be about death, sadness, internment camps or cholera. Couldn’t Everybody Read “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” in 2011? (As my friend Laura and I urged Diane Linn when we worked for her in 2001.)

Tuesday early to mid-morning : Pleased to see over 150 people accumulate on the Novick for County Chair Facebook page. Make some calls to people who say they will help. Make press calls that seem to go well.

Tuesday late morning: Start reaching people who tell me that they would hate to have to choose between me and Jeff Cogen for County Chair. Get some calls from people asking me not to run against Cogen. Get message from Cogen himself. Realize that although I would start out with, I am confident, a huge advantage in name ID, this would be a very tough fight. Start thinking about how Jeff Cogen has always done everything I ever asked him to do, including marching around Pioneer Courthouse Square with signs saying where tax dollars go. Recall that he’s the only person who I ever heard provide what sounded like a rational, rather than pie-in-the-sky, case for why Oregon really could turn into a solar energy materials manufacturing powerhouse. Sternly reject those thoughts: “You might never get an opportunity to make a real difference again! You can’t let friendship stand in your way!”

Tuesday around noon: Call District Attorney Mike Schrunk and County Human Services Director Joanne Fuller to ask about some policy details (I figure it doesn’t make any sense for either of them to play favorites in the race but they’d be happy to give me facts and tell me if any of my ideas are really stupid.) They’re very helpful as always.

Tuesday 12:30: Drive to Elections Office. Park outside. Sit, think. Decide to return Cogen’s call before I file. Call Cogen.

Tuesday, 1:30: Walk into restaurant to meet Cogen, while I’m on the phone. Get another call while finishing conversation, which goes to voicemail. Say hi to Jeff. Check the voicemail. It’s Beverly Stein telling me she’s supporting Jeff. I reflect on the fact that if I were asked ‘who is the best judge of who would be the best County Chair?’ , I would doubtless answer: ‘Beverly Stein.’ I also reflect on the fact that my Senate campaign would never have gotten off the ground if Beverly Stein hadn’t given me her list and done a host of other things for me. Running against a candidate supported by Beverly Stein would really feel awful.

Tuesday 1:35: Start talking with Cogen. Hear him explain what he’s been doing and what he wants to do next.

Tuesday 1:44: Tell Cogen I’m not running against him.

Rest of afternoon: Call back all the people I had called before.

Tuesday evening: Thinking back over the past ten years, realize that somebody’s trying to send me a message: I am not supposed to be in elected office. Consider this:

2001: State rep race killed off by redistricting.

2003: Spend months preparing to run for Earl Blumenauer’s seat when all signs are that he’s running for Mayor; line up an amazingly gratifying list of hypothetical supporters; then Earl decides to stay.

2004: Maria Rojo de Steffey convinces me to run for her County Commission seat because she’s planning to run for City Commission – then changes her mind and decides to stay. (No hard feelings, Maria! Still love you.)

2006: (This involves revealing semi-confidences but it’s ancient history now and too funny to skip): My good friends Erik Sten and Ginny Burdick are running against each other. Someone who purports to be familiar with Erik’s thinking tells me that Erik had been hesitant about running and might think about stepping back if he could find a suitable progressive hero replacement such as myself. I tell said person that although I wish Ginny Burdick weren’t running against Erik, she’s one of my best friends and I could not run against her. Years later I tell this story to Ginny and she says “you know, I thought someone needed to run against Erik but I might not have run against you.“ (I have no idea if the purported intermediary really was relating Erik’s thinking and I wonder if Ginny can accurately imagine how she would have reacted to that scenario, but assuming complete accuracy I might have passed up a chance to jump into the race with the blessing of BOTH contestants!)

2002-10: Live in the State House district of the longest-serving member of the State House (the delightful Caroline Tomei). (Note: Oregon Supreme Court throws out term limits in 2002.)

Also 2002-10: Numerous other politicos who unlike me still have the brains they were born with move into districts with open seats and win. I contemplate that idea periodically and it just seems too crass. I am an idiot.

2008: Run for Senate in the same year that ‘my’ (Maria’s) County Commission seat opens up, as well as two City Council seats and ‘my’ (Kate Brown’s) State Senate seat – meaning numerous possibilities are gone for foreseeable future. Chuck Schumer empties the safes of Wall Street against me to beat me in the primary. Subsequently Jeff Merkley does such a good job in the Senate that I really can’t be too mad about it.

Also 2008: Darlene Hooley retires. Someone purporting to be acting for the powers that be in Washington, D.C. tells me that if I drop out of the Senate race and run for Hooley’s seat the dark national forces arrayed against me in the Senate primary will swing into action on my behalf. I point out that I don’t live in the district (not a legal requirement, of course) and have asked a lot of people for their support on the basis that I was running against Gordon Smith so I think it would be immoral to take said dark forces up on their offer. Again, I am an idiot. (Also, to be frank, I kind of suspected a trick, and didn’t think anyone could really keep Kurt Schrader out of the race.) (By the way, the purported emissary of the powers that be responded by saying, understandingly, 'well, if you see it as a moral issue, that's the end of the story,' proving that even representatives of dark national forces can respect principled stands.)

2009: Start preparing to run for Governor for several months. Become convinced I can win against anyone but John Kitzhaber or [Peter DeFazio](http://www.defazioforcongress.org). Kitzhaber gets in.

2010: Permanently destroy credibility by running 6-hour County Chair race.

The message is pretty clear, I think: Klotho, Atropos and Lachesis (well, I guess we don't know about Lachesis yet) just don’t want me to serve in elected office. Whenever an opportunity SEEMS to come up, it either vanishes into thin air, involves doing something morally distasteful, or requires slaying six dragons at once, one-handed. And now that I’ve permanently destroyed my credibility, well …

But at least people do seem to take my phone calls. So every once in a while I’ll call Wheeler and tell him needs to beat up Wall Street more. And I’ll call Cogen every once in a while and say: “All the sustainability stuff is good, Jeff. But since public safety’s 50% of the county budget, I expect 50% of your press releases to be related to public safety. When’s the last time you talked with Judge Marcus anyway?” And he’ll say: “I was just talking to Marcus yesterday. We’re working on something big, I promise. But I can send out a press release whenever we put up another solar panel. People love it. The crime stuff’s harder. What do you want me to do, make an announcement every day a released felon goes without committing another crime?”

Anyway, that was my 48 hours.

P.S. – DAMN IT! I should at least have insisted that Cogen commit to making ‘Mixed-Up Files’ the ‘Everybody Reads’ book for 2011 before giving him my endorsement!

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    awesome awesome awesome. and you friggin typed it one-handed (or do you have a hook method, and if so, can you YouTube it?)

    your Facebook page is still up (i put it up & am leaving it to show the love) has 229 fans. your political career is a long way from over. fortunately you're young. Earl will come home soon & we can send you to DC to show Kucinich how to combine strong beliefs with effective action.

  • blackandblue (unverified)

    And yet in the midst of all that angst you still had time to write, "Reaching Out to Investors (Really) In the Wake of Measure 66."

  • Val (unverified)

    You are my favorite perennial candidate EVER!

  • SteveDuin (unverified)

    And I read to the bittersweet end (as, I suspect, did Paul Romaine, Diane Linn, and Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler).

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    Highest and best use of Blue Oregon, hands down. I don't think your decision damages future efforts at all, really. The chronology of your attempts at public office are kind of Lincolnesque.

    I still consider getting you into elected office unfinished business and hope to get another shot at some point in the not-too-distant future.

  • Brian (unverified)

    Great story. Marvelously honest and entertaining. Thanks for sharing. The only reason you might not have an elected office in your future (as in your past) is that you're so human and real. That's tremendously appealing to me, but unfortunately artificiality and fakiness takes in a lot of voters.

  • Dan (unverified)

    "The message is pretty clear, I think: Klotho, Atropos and Lachesis (well, I guess we don't know about Lachesis yet) just don’t want me to serve in elected office."

    And Edison failed what, like 200 times, before he finally evented a successful light bulb.

    Timing is everything; yours just hasn't arrived yet. But I'm convinced we need more people like yourself, Steve, with vision and character and charisma, who are willing to step up and lead. I'd vote for you in any race you cared to enter!

  • Brian Collins (unverified)

    Steve - We still love you. Your time will come!


  • Jake Weigler (unverified)

    Jeez Steve. If you're finished at 47, I think a bunch of folks in this state need to start adjusting their own timetables.

    And to everyone else, we're having a Novick reunion at Plan B (1305 SE 8th in Portland) on Tuesday, March 16 at 5:30 p.m. I encourage you to come by and buck up his spirits by showing him that he's still got a ready, willing and able base for his next campaign.

  • David Newell (unverified)

    Politics would be great if it wasn't so political. Hang in there.

    (Normally don't post here, but this touched too close to home.)

  • Blaine Palmer (unverified)

    The message is pretty clear, I think: Klotho, Atropos and Lachesis (well, I guess we don't know about Lachesis yet) just don’t want me to serve in elected office.

    Steve, you have the wrong mythological framework. You are Sisyphus, eternally pushing the rock of elected office up the campaign hill, only to have the mischievous god of Circumstance send it tumbling back.

    Or like Cassandra, you have the gift of being the person most fitted for government office along with the curse of being unable to find a race you can successfully run.

    And yet you can still be Ajax, the warrior whose grit and purity cleanse government of even the toughest stains.

  • Holly Knight (unverified)

    Damn funny and I second the comment that your trajectory is totally Lincolnesque. Dude, you are headed for the White House at this rate! Don't give up. There is something out there and you will be in the right position at the right time to go for it.

  • Connor Allen (unverified)

    That's an excellent story Steve.

  • Ruth (unverified)

    Also, I’d have my chance to tell the wonderful, but painfully politically correct people who run the Library that the “Everybody Reads” book for the year doesn’t ALWAYS have to be about death, sadness, internment camps or cholera. Couldn’t Everybody Read “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” in 2011?

    I would vote for you every chance I had.

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    I was the second person to join your fan page and I will join others, soon. Plus, I will never believe you're an idiot. No matter where you land, I always be proud to be a supporter...

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    Steve, you have to issue an end of your End of My Never-Really-Started Political Career. Without the threat of running in some election, some elected might not pay as much attention. You should always maintain the threat of running, regardless of what you do or want to do. Do not disarm unilaterally.

    Besides, their is an office waiting for you somewhere.

  • Shauna Ballo (unverified)

    There are many of us who will still support you in any job you ever decide to run for, Steve. Though if I were Deborah Kafoury, I might not stand too close to bus lanes for awhile.

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    Jeez Steve. If you're finished at 47, I think a bunch of folks in this state need to start adjusting their own timetables.

    Well put. And I completely disagree with the idea that you have destroyed your credibility. The fact that you dropped out of the race shows that you were running in order to serve the best interests of the county, and not your own ego.

    I hope that someday soon I will have the chance to vote for Steve Novick again. You remind me of Paul Wellstone, and that's as high praise as I can give as a liberal who grew up in Minnesota. He lost his first statewide race too you know.

  • WONEF (unverified)


    Nothing makes me happier than a political leader "telling it like it is". It doesn't happen nearly enough and is the reason I love Joe Biden, Al Franken... guys like that.

    Your time is coming... your intellect, integrity and honesty will pay off (for you and all of your supporters).

  • Scarlett (unverified)

    A couple of points: 1) Your political credibility is not destroyed from running a 6-hour campaign. Your summary is chock full of other political candidates waffling about whether or not to run for a particular office. It's all part of the territory... And I suspect you know that already, or you would if you took one more step back. 2) That said, maybe you're not supposed to hold an office. As much as I like to imagine what kind of a shake-up you could create if you won, I worry about political reality. I wonder if you might be able to raise more hell from outside of an elected office. It's not an opinion really, just something to consider. In any case, I think we're lucky to have you!

  • james mattiace (unverified)

    Steve, Thanks for all you actually have done without winning a political seat.

    And thanks for shedding light on the inner shifting turmoils that plague every responsible politico out there.


  • Fred Heutte (unverified)

    Rather than the Three Fates of Greek antiquity this seems more like the Indian classical sagas with their epic journeys of daring deeds, honor defended and, in their modern Bollywood guise, flashy costumes and dancing with really bad acting. Especially by the politicians.

    Good on yer, bro, and remember, filing deadline for 2012 is just 734 days away...

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    There's a seat out there, somewhere, with your name on it. With all the goodwill that you've earned over the last couple years, you're going to be unstoppable. Keep being you!

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    I think Lizzie & Looper need to figure out an appropriate new job title for you. "Doomed Perennial Candidate?" "Perennially Doomed Candidate?"

  • Shemia Fagan (unverified)

    Hilarious Steve. But inaccurate on one point, you did NOT ruin your credibility. Looking forward to pitching in whenever you do run.

  • Carlos (unverified)


    My grandfather once said to me while I was still a kid, "a friend is a buck in your pocket". I came to realize what it meant some 40 years later. During my most difficult moments of my life, all those whom I considered friends and helped unconditionally, turned their backs on me. Yes, I was also a political activist as you are now.

    There are no friends in politics. The fact is there are no friends at all. I learned the hard way.

    Now I live thousands of miles away from home in good old Portland. I love it because I have no friends, except for my dog who passed away last year. I want to keep it that way, because a friend is a buck in your pocket.

    You are a brilliant person. You are honest and committed to noble causes. People like you should be the ones serving their constituents. But you trust, and have dedicated yourself to people who are only interested in serving their own causes or agendas. Your message today is proof of your honesty.

    Your time will come. Don't hang up your gloves yet. But you need to focus yourself in the big picture. Furthermore, you need to believe in yourself.

    I really would have wanted you to challenge Ron Wyden in a primary. I would have voted for you. I would even have campaigned for you. That because you are a true progressive and Wyden proved not to be one. I bet you could defeat Wyden.

    You are going to become an elected officer someday. You are going to become a great leader of Oregonians and you will earn the respect of your constituents because you are honest. Moreover, your political career will turn to be a successful one, because once you read and learned from an unknown that "a friend is a buck in your pocket".

    See you at the campaign trail!

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    (Also, to be frank, I kind of suspected a trick, and didn’t think anyone could really keep Kurt Schrader out of the race.)

    Yeah. I wouldn't trust any of the money/strategy guys at national any farther than I can throw Mike Huckabee. You only need to watch their behavior in other races to learn that they have no apparent gag reflex.

    (By the way, the purported emissary of the powers that be responded by saying, understandingly, 'well, if you see it as a moral issue, that's the end of the story,' proving that even representatives of dark national forces can respect principled stands.)

    Or Cheney-like they put you in the "contempt" box, as "morals" are for losers.

    Since you are one of the top dozen people in the state that progressives quote and emulate, I'd say that Minister-Without-Portfolio is also a pretty effective place for you to be...Still, as long as you don't run against Joss Whedon, I'll sure hava look.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    I don't think filing day musical chairs destroys Steve's or anyone’s credibility. No more than DeFazio waiting till the end to decide once again whether or not to run for gov hurt his credibility. He is still a great politician who had a tough decision to make and probably didn't anger many in holding on to his house seniority. Steve and others had one day to decide for treasurer and the Mult. seats under intense media interest. None of them asked for or expected it.

    Even if Steve had run for one of those positions and lost, there are many examples of candidates losing, sometimes more than once, and rising again. Who would have thought that Governor Kulongoski would win the statehouse in '02, 20 years after an enormous defeat for that office? I know that no one I talked to in early '01 thought that he should run or would win. By late '01 he was the front runner.

    Peter Courtney gave up two terms in the state house to lose a congressional primary in '84. He then narrowly lost a senate race in '86. Two years later, he won back his house seat and has remained a great legislative leader.

    Remember the great Teddy Roosevelt quote, and of course, it is now "the person" instead of "the man":

    "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)

    Nah, Steve, you haven't ruined your credibility....you made a reasoned decision in a short amount of time. That raises your credibility in my eyes and I'm sure many others.

    As for future office, the right one will come along someday...and when it does I'll work for you, donate to your campaign and vote for you....as will many others. Hang in there, cause you are far from done.

  • jsilver2th (unverified)

    I voted for you in US Senate race and look forward to having the chance to back you again- Mark Hatfield used to say timing was 75% of politics and he is so correct.

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    Actually, you also got another fact wrong, although not by much. Not only did you not lose your credibility (and lots of us would like to be able to write as well as you even when embarrassed without cause) but the "delightful" Caroline Tomei is but one of the three longest serving Democrats in the House along with Mary Nolan and yours truly. The longest serving member is Bob Jensen from Pendleton who faces a primary this year. Details, details.

    I've never really understood the politics of Stumptown but it is fascinating to watch the toing a froing from a hundred miles up river. Oh, and 47 is the year I won my first race by winning a seat on the Eugene School Board. You could start there next year at PPS...

  • steve Novick (unverified)

    Sorry Phil! I thought I was quoting Dave Hunt from an appearance he had with Caroline ... but maybe I misheard ...

  • Humphrey (unverified)

    Steve, thanks for this post.

    I've got some suggestions:

    1. Challenge Saltzman or Leonard. Both are wearing thin.
    2. Challenge Kroger. He's all talk no substance and DOJ lawyers hate him. Or just wait, he's obviously positioning himself for higher office and will try to make the jump the next chance that comes along.
    3. Move to a marginal district and run after a little time has passed. Yes, we all know PDX is the coolest place to live in the Northwest, but I'm told there are some other places in Oregon have something to offer. Plus you can always come visit. I'm sure you could find a new Oregon home that would grow on you enough to make you feel good about representing them.
  • Ardent Follower (unverified)

    Fuck you Novick, since you know there's still a boatload of problems around the county, state, and nation and you're immensely qualified to deal with it. Just because you haven't had a victory doesn't mean much given chance and competitive opponents. You have the disadvantage of being outspoken, but you're ridiculously intelligent and can push a few more changes to win people over. Your choice, but we need you, and we know you've got the courage.

  • rick metsger (unverified)

    Steve, Great Chronology. It reads exactly like you. I love the honesty and transparency. Have always missed you since your were our chief caucus guru(although the fire marshall was always a risk of shutting down the office due to your over abundance of paper not exactly carefully filed, (LOL!)Thanks for all you have done and continue to do. You have the best mind of progessive politics out there who can defend their positions with facts and logic.

    Rick Metsger

  • LT (unverified)


    This shows a level of wit too often missing from Oregon politics---as well as something I agree with:

    "Couldn’t Everybody Read “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” in 2011? (As my friend Laura and I urged Diane Linn when we worked for her in 2001.)"

  • Rose Wilde (unverified)

    Steve, it is people like you who make politics worth it.

    I, too, want to have it all -- political opportunity, honest friendships, and ethical standards. You were our speaker on ethics in last year's Emerge Oregon class, and we couldn't have found a better speaker.

    But, you will have to figure out how to stand for yourself and not back down even against a good friend and a strong opponent. I don't know PDX politics, so I don't know Jeff, but maybe you would have worked harder door knocking, engaged more constituents in the process, and built a stronger democracy, more accountable local government in the process of defeating him? Even though he had a lot of supporters lined up, the campaign at the door and the candidate's ability to engage a strong support system makes all the difference. And you are loved so well among those of us who get out on knock on doors for candidates who care, you would have all that.

    So, it is never the right time Steve! I'm waiting until I'm ready to hold my head high when they come mud slinging and stand for my principles. You already know how to do that, and a lot more besides, so start getting used to the idea that you may have to bruise some egos of people you care about, but if you run a clean campaign, you won't lose your integrity. Even people like Beverly Stein (who I don't know) I bet would accept if you felt like your time had come.

    I really am pretty sad that people actually called Steve Novick and asked him NOT to run. This man belongs in office. But Steve, you have to be your strongest advocate. And rest assured, we do need you in office. Consider it your responsibility if it makes it easier to bear.

    Now I'll consider my own advice and my own next move.

  • Ted Gleichman (unverified)

    Novick, I think your County Chair race was awesome! I don't think there's another wonk in the state who could have run that smooth a campaign in less than seven hours.

    You've been a serial overachiever since you were a juvenile, and (speaking of public safety) I'm afraid there is no way to prevent you from re-overachieving in the future. I just cannot support your early release.

    I'll be on sick-in-law duty for the Plan B rally, but (since, by my count, you're on approximately Plan H now anyway), I hope to catch up with you and your humongous team of indefatigable campaigners later in the Alphabet.

  • Rachel Plett (unverified)

    Dear Steve,

    Here's what I think. I may be right on, or way off. Full disclosure I know S*@t about Oregon politics. I do, though, have a perspective on "fate".

    I am sorry that you are frustrated right now, and I am sad that you are in the early stages of giving up. But blaming it on fate is a cop out. If you don't want to do it anymore don't do it, but I have seen you on stage before. Have seen your balls swingin', figuratively speaking, and I doubt that you don't. So if you sill want to you shouldn't not.

    On Fate; I am no expert but I have had my fair share of experiences. The most recent was an entanglement with a long string of events marked by mono, a three-way relocation between Portland and Texas, a Hurricane named IKE, Falling in love, A dream job I don't have any more and a parent christening an empty nest by becoming an alcoholic. Not necessarily in that order. This is what I got out of my latest arm wrestling match with destiny. If Descartes was right and God is a watch maker then Fate is the watch. Its inner workings are ultimately unknowable and only speaks the language of time and timing. You cannot know, smart as you may think yourself to be, all of what is going to happen and when it will. The only really knowable thing in the world to you is you and what you want. The world working will adjust the way that you get it but no watch not even God's tells us what we do and do not want.

    I like you Steve. You are the only political figure I have paid any attention to since moving to Portland and I have been waiting, since you made it on my radar, for an opportunity to work for you. I was excited Monday for that shot when I heard some rumblings on the inside track. So, selfishly, I don't want you to stop because I would like the opportunity to come around again.

    You have a great mind and an eye for the core of an idea, question, concept or what ever you turn your thought toward. Also, to be and do what you are, A huge, jangling pair of balls. That makes you my kinda guy.

    I say if you still want to do politics you just gotta hang in there kitten.

    Love, Rach

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    Back in 2000, Alec Baldwin was pondering a race for the US Senate (the race that Hillary Clinton eventually made). He went to James Carville for advice.

    According to Baldwin (on Larry King or Charlie Rose, I don't remember), Carville told him, "The world is run by men in their 50s. Go make some more money and run later. There's plenty of time."

    You're 47. In a political sense, the best years are yet to come.

  • Mari Anne (unverified)

    Thanks Steve. You continue to amaze me. Still rockin the vote!

  • Connor Allen (unverified)

    Kari, if the Bus Project has taught us anything it's that state and local politics don't have to be an old men's game.

  • John English (unverified)


    Yes, having a true populist crime fighter who can inspire staff like Steve at DOJ would be nice. Kroger foolishly attacked his would be staff by posting on his '08 campaign website the spring 2008 Steve Duin column calling the DOJ attrorneys "underacheivers" and it went down hill from there. Their own AFSCME local endorsed McPherson.

    However, will SEIU admit that they only supported Kroger and gave hime something like 10 times more money than they've ever given an AG candidiate before purely out of spite at McP. over his PERS vote? Probably not. ALthough I'm sure that SEIU likes Steve, SEIU has to save face and stick with the guy with whom they invested their workers' hard earned money.

    AG is typically a low profile race, and Kroger is a good self promoter, so I think that is off the table. Earl's 3rd CD remains the best fit for Steve, although he would probably be great on CIty Council, too.

    Frankly, Steve's in your face liberalism and countless statements documenting that would have made him a tough sell statewide, even in '08. Steve would have been as vulnerable in the 5th CD as Furse was in the 3rd.

  • Scott Beutel (unverified)

    @ Kari "You're 47. In a political sense, the best years are yet to come." -- Steve, this is sage advice. Oregon still needs you and your chance for elected office will come. Earl may bike a lot, but he isn't immortal. In the mean time keep making Oregon a smarter and more progressive place.


    Novick, I'll dial for dollars with you anytime. You just have to give me more then 6 hours to help you campaign! In all seriousness, you have a great base of support and political opportunities will come.

    I admire your willingness to not go all out against friends for the sake of politics. Human decency should trump politics at times. Your explanation of a 6 hour campaign makes perfect sense.

    Your work is inspiring to a lot of people and I know your willingness to go big on the Senate race still inspires me. Lets bust out some analogies about the 1920 something Yankees or the 1919 (?) Braves. I can't keep any of the sports analogies straight, but I'm still rooting for the underdog and know that the underdog can be a winner.

    Since I'm now in Minnesota and won't be able to make the Novick meet up Jake highlights I have to say that Oregon is still missing its Paul Wellstone. I still think you are the guy to be the tough, smart and tireless progressive how will represent the democratic wing of the Democratic party.

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    <h2>Thanks, Steve, for your leadership and your support of my campaign.</h2>

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