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Posts published in “Day: May 24, 2007”

The Novick evolution

Steve Novick

Steve Novick

The nascent Steve Novick campaign for the Senate picked up some useful support this week. During an interview on the Thom Hartmann talk show on KPOJ, the host disclosed he had donated to Novick's campaign and urged listeners to do likewise, as some evidently did. Not a bad early hit.

Today, he picked up backing from a clutch of Oregon attorneys, a substantial group - a useful starting point. Not everyone in the Democratic sector, apparently, is holding back and waiting for a better-known figure to enter the Democratic contest against Republican Gordon Smith next year.

Count these among indications that Novick is developing his campaign methodically, alongside demonstration of his trademark communications chops. On the attorney endorsement: "And yes, I know what the Republicans will say. ‘Novick's in bed with the trial lawyers,' they'll say. And I say to them: ‘I'm proud of my friends. They help real people. They protect consumers. They fight for justice. Who are you in bed with? The cigarette companies, the drug companies, the insurance companies, the criminally careless manufacturers.'" No Democratic defensiveness here (that being a lesson some other Democrats might learn from).

The Senate announcement by Novick, who has deep history as a Democratic issues and communications operative (his resume apart from that is worth a review, too), came with the feel of something akin to a demonstration project - it was preceded by a provocative cover story in Willamette Week ("If I Ran"), which in the main consisted of the case against Smith - or maybe like a prompt to others to run. Whatever Novick's original thinking (his seriousness about taking out Smith never has been in doubt), it is now a perfectly serious campaign, and Novick could well be the Democratic nominee next year.


Smith’s middling status

Oregon Senator Gordon Smith shouldn't be understimated as a political force; he's no pushover. But the recent spate of passes on a Senate race against him by so many of the state's leading Democrats shouldn't turn him into a tougher target than he is.

With that in mind, consider the just-out Survey USA numbers on Smith (and other senators): Now at 48% approve, 39% disapprove. That's down from late 2006 numbers giving him approval in the upper 50s.

Democrat Ron Wyden stands at 60% approve, 28% disapprove.

Just a matter of perspective.

Last of the Andrus justices

Linda Copple Trout

Linda Copple Trout

There was a point in the 90s when all the members of the Idaho Supreme Court were appointees of Democratic Governor Cecil Andrus. Of the other four, three were appointed by Republican governors and the other elected, unopposed, to the seat.

Now the last of them will be leaving the court. The Spokane Spokesman-Review's Betsy Russell reports today that Linda Copple Trout, who also is the only woman on the high court, will resign from the court effective in August, partly so that she won't go through election to the seat, which would occur next year.

You can understand that. There were fierce elections in 2000 and 2002 over the judicial seats, in which Andrus appointees were targeted; Trout prevailed but another justice (Cathy Silak) did not. A quote from Trout: "The fear really is from soft money. It's from third parties, which is something I never considered until it happened to her and then it happened in a big way to me. I truly thought I would run on my record and my merits and my opponent would as well, and people would judge as best they could on that basis. I never dreamed that I would see 'Liberal Linda Trout' on TV."

The Idaho Supreme Court, back in the 90s and since, never has seemed especially liberal, or strikingly conservative for that matter. Through the years, there have been (as she noted) a lot of unanimous or near-unanimous votes, even on hot issues. Still, a certain kind of perspective may go missing when Trout leaves the bench this summer.

AHEAD Look for the prospect of a second supreme court justice being in effect picked from the group applying now for the Schroeder vacancy.