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Oregon Senate: Something 'a Little Different'

Why is today's Oregon Senate Democratic primary so close? State House Speaker Jeff Merkley has the money and the support of the national party, so why is attorney Steve Novick apparently running even or better with him?

It could be because Novick has an unusual profile, catchy slogans and funny TV ads. "We think the people are looking for something a little different," Novick has said. "And I'm little, and I'm different."

Standing at 4'9" and with a hook for a left hand, Novick has made his appearance and stature part of his campaign. And it appears to be working, particularly in this ad that has become a hit on national political blogs and activist sites:

"U.S. Senate Candidate Steve Novick has fought corporate polluters ... but would you want to have a beer with him?" the ad's narrator asks. Novick proceeds to help out his barmate by opening a bottle of beer with his hook, prompting the narrator to add: "Steve Novick: He's always found a way to get things done."

Novick has clearly struck a chord among Oregon Democrats. Will it be enough to overcome Merkley's institutional advantages? And if Novick wins today, will his quirkiness translate well to a general election race against Sen. Gordon Smith (R)? It's not clear who would win that campaign, but it would certainly be entertaining.

By Ben Pershing  |  May 20, 2008; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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