Steve Novick: Blogging "a way for a number of people to waste a vast amount of time"
One of the questions in the interview concerned the netroots. Here are Merkley and Novick's answers, in context:
Willamette Week interviewer: The blogs...do you think they've helped or hurt the Democratic nominee's chance to win in November?I can hardly believe Novick actually said this, but you can see it for yourself - it's all on video. I've observed before that Oregon's netroots community is split between Novick and Merkley. Novick has many supporters online, so why is he dissing people who have invested time building new media?
Speaker Jeff Merkley: I think that the blogs help, because they are going to spread a lot of information. [...] We have some incredible progressive talent here... And that word is going to spread - about the fact that Oregon has enormously progressive candidates to take on Senator Smith.
Steve Novick: Uh...I have no idea. They are...I mean, I think that they provide information to some people. They're also a way for a number of people to waste a vast amount of time. But probably they're the only ones that suffer from that.
First he says he has "no idea" whether blogs have had an impact (positive or negative) but he doesn't stop at that. He then suggests that they're "a way for a number of people to waste a vast amount of time."
Given how hard Novick has tried to present himself as a people's insurgent against an establishment rival, I can't help but conclude he's done himself some damage with these comments. Whether or not his supporters get upset about this remains to be seen, but Novick has already managed to lose favor with us.
Merkley's answer, on the other hand, is what I would expect to hear from a Democratic candidate who appreciates the value of the netroots community.
Novick's comment about blogging isn't the only bothersome thing that he said in that interview, however. Here's the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes:
Democratic Senate candidate Steve Novick says the most qualified candidate in the race besides himself is not one of the other Democrats but independent John Frohnmayer.Eventually, Novick said he would vote for Candy Neville, "given what I know now". Novick's unwillingness to set his differences aside with Jeff Merkley in the interest of party unity is troubling. Jeff doesn't have a problem supporting Steve. So why can't Steve reciprocate that goodwill?
Novick, a Portland lawyer and consultant, does say that he would back his chief rival, House Speaker Jeff Merkley, if he wins the nomination. But he told The Oregonian on Thursday that Frohnmayer "would be a better senator than Jeff Merkley."
Novick's views, first broached in a Willamette Week interview posted on the Internet, is another example of Novick's willingness to break with his party.
Novick, Merkley and two other candidates in the Democratic primary, Candy Neville of Eugene and David Loera of Salem, were asked in the weekly newspaper's joint endorsement interview who in the room they would support if they couldn't vote for themselves.
Merkley immediately said he would back Novick. But Novick said, "I'd vote for John Frohnmayer." When he was asked what other Democrat he would support, Novick paused for a long time and said, "I have a hard time answering that."
Too often the Democratic Party splinters because Democrats can't forgive each other and move on. Beating the Republicans requires teamwork. Jeff Merkley has demonstrated that he's a team player. Steve Novick, on the other hand, has made it clear that he'll be sore if he loses. That's unfortunate.
Perhaps Novick's supporters can talk some sense into him before his comments get circulated more widely. We wouldn't mind an apology.
UPDATE: Steve has addressed his Willamette Week comments on his campaign website:
In the Willamette Week endorsement interview the other day, I gave a pretty dumb answer to a question about the impact of blogs on politics. Some folks online are blowing my comments up as a betrayal of the netroots, so I wanted to take a moment to apologize for my statement and clarify what I was trying to say.We appreciate your response, Steve - and we accept your apology.
We were asked: “The blogs … do you think they've helped or hurt the Democratic nominee's chance to win in November?” Given the editor’s additional comments, I took this to mean, “Has all the back-and-forth between the candidates’ partisans on the blogs so far helped or hurt the cause?”The truth is that blogs and the netroots are doing a lot to beat Gordon Smith and they are doing a lot to help my campaign.