Sunday, April 01, 2007

Novick Apparently to Formally Announce April 18

This just in from a diarist at DailyKos, which is rapidly becoming Oregon Senate Race Central:
This is my first diary so excuse me if the tone is a bit personal. It's my feeling that this is serving as a sort of introduction of myself to the Kos Kommunity as well as a report on some breaking news.

I just received an email from Steve Novick in which he stated "Looks like I'm running." I had written him in response to an article he wrote for Willamette Week earlier this year. In this article he laid out the case against Sen. Smith and his strategy for beating him. You can read that here. The reason for my email was to encourage him to run. There were 4 main reasons for my enthusiasm about his candidacy:

1. Like many Kossacks, I think Smith is vulnerable.

2. No well-known Democrat wants to run. With the 2006 election cycle successes in turning both the federal and state legislatures blue, all of our most distinguished Democratic legislators are very happy with their current positions.

3. Mr. Novick's positions on the issues are in line with mine. I would definitely classify him as a mainstream progressive.

4. Being legally blind, I liked the idea of a person with a disability representing Oregon in the U.S. Senate. From my perspective, his campaign definitely has the "identity politics" thing going for it.
Can't confirm it, but it would be an awfully weird April Fool's joke. So let's assume it's true. What it means is that Novick is sufficiently convinced that no one really wants to jump in against Smith, and he's going to have to either prod people in, provide the anti-Smith foundation later candidates can use to soften him up with, or actually mount a mainstream campaign to beat the guy.

I have to say I still think the last scenario is the least likely, but it's not for want of its occurrence. I believe that if Chuck Schumer were to let the race organically develop and not spend a bunch of money crassly trying to entice favored sons into the election, Novick could marshal support and capture a cross section of Oregonians. The guy has charisma, he's quick on his feet, his narrative is coherent and visionary, and he has a story. When you have that combination you get guys like Barack Obama, and Novick has the ability to have that kind of effect on people.

Whether he gets a full shot at that or not is another matter. Novick has life experience, he has legal experience, he has political experience--but he doesn't, strictly speaking, have electoral experience. I don't think working your way up the ladder is a necessity; I think Obama's qualified to serve without more than a Senate's term and some state leg work. It's in the measure of the man, and Novick certainly qualifies on that merit, so we should serve our idealism and support the kind of person we always say we really want, but never seem to get.

But idealism doesn't pay the office rent and server hosting, and if Novick gets the "unviable" tag by default because he's never raised money for his own prospective office, I can't necessarily blame people for hedging. He does have some free media and grassroots backing, and he can sell people on the stump and should run rings around Smith in terms of electronic presence, so it's a question of whether those advantages make up for the lack of big-presence campaign money and influence.

If he's serious, and I imagine he likely is, bless him for trying and let's see if the guy can hack while he's the de facto front runner. Does he generate buzz? Does he get contributions? Does he make Smith notice and respond to him? Does he gain credibility as a voice of opposition, or does the media draw him into the caricature of the funny short guy with a hook wants to take Smith down? I know he can do those things; will he? Stay tuned...

Update, 4/3 230pm--

It would appear that someone from Gordon Smith's coterie is interested in whether Novick runs...this page just got visited by someone from "," which I take to mean that they received our story as a link in their email, and clicked to find out what it was all about.

Hi, person managing Gordon Smith's campaign website! Welcome!