Monday, May 21, 2007

Steve Novick for Senate: Updated

[Editor's note: This post was drafted by Carla and TJ--together. It was a joint effort. Readers should understand that our endorsement of Steve is for both of us as a team even though the piece appears under TJ's handle]

Aren't we just a touch late in announcing this, you may wonder? Steve's been officially a candidate for just over a month now, and has certainly been the subject of much discussion around the blogosphere as well as the state's media outlets. So why the headline now?

Quite simply, because it's time now. When Steve declared we were still seeing if Peter DeFazio had a mind to take on Gordon Smith, and in fact it was a bit awkward to talk about Peter without acknowledging that we were virtually ignoring someone who was willing to enter the race, in favor of someone who turned out to be indefatigably unwilling.

And then the question turned to Earl Blumenauer, who was somewhat less attractive as a statewide galvanizer but much more palatable as a risk option. That combination proved unenticing to Earl, who like DeFazio was enjoying his rare taste of power too much to roll the dice on a freshman seat in the other body. In his wake, a roll call redux of other "establishment" candidates revealed their own non-intentions this week. Virtually no one on the tip of anyone's tongue seems willing to toss his hat.

There are several legislative candidates now hearing rumblings around their names, and we'll touch on that in a bit. But with the departure of Blumenauer, we think it's time to step up and cast our lot in the primary with the kind of candidate progressives always claim they want, but are often too frightened to fight for--Steve Novick.

The rule for judging candidacies should be to elevate the issues and squelch horse race considerations whenever possible. Obviously a candidate who is perfect on the issues but has a worrying tendency to gaffe on the stump or carries some personal anvil isn't going to work out. We initially found Novick's candidacy a touchy subject because we concentrated on his theoretical "electability' weakness while foregoing his substantive strengths. No more.

The truth is that the only major barrier Novick faces is that almost no one outside the Oregon political bubble has any idea who he is. This is an eminently fixable problem. For many unknown candidates, they are simply too bland, too safe or too same-y to break through the noise and develop Q rating. Steve's physical characteristics, whipsmart mind, rapier wit and compelling story make an immediate impression wherever he goes. Once hooked (bad pun, sorry) he is able to hold audiences with his position on the issues.

So what about those other potentials? This week Senator Alan Bates said he was seriously thinking about thinking about it, while names like Jeff Merkley and Kate Brown popped into speculative brains. Any one of the people we've heard named could be effective candidates and Senators, but two things collectively hold them back:

1. At best they're no better on the issues than Steve
2. They're not running (so far).

As TJ tried to explain for the 10th time to Mrs. Joe why we were pitching for DeFazio, she would ask, "Why are you pushing for someone who doesn't seem to want it? They should already be in, asking you for help."

As is often the case, she turned out to be right: gumption and initiative count for an awful lot. We welcome new entrants to the race; anyone who wants to explain to Oregonians why Gordon Smith needs to be replaced is OK with us. But unless something changes radically, we've already got a candidate who CAN beat Gordo, who SHOULD beat Gordo, and who will definitely OUTGOVERN Gordo on our behalf. His name is Steve Novick. Donate here.