Tomorrow is primary election day here in Oregon. Well, if you’re like most people, you’ve already voted as you received your ballot in the mail weeks ago. Me? I like to wait out the entire campaign cycle before dropping my ballot at a drop box location—which for me this year is the Capitol Hill Library. (This library incidentally currently has a “Graphic Novel” section featuring three compendiums of Peter Bagge’s Hate, as well as an Arcade Fire album, and noise canceling earphones joined to the computers that cause my daughter to yell “I want a new one!” at the top or her lungs because she’s unable to modulate her own pitch).
One of my reasons behind waiting until the last minute, other than sheer laziness1, is so I can be sufficiently assaulted by the full ad cycles from each candidate. Take, for instance, the Democratic primary for the opportunity to take on Gordon Smith (R-Pendleton) for the right to represent Oregon in the U.S. Senate.
To this point I had been on the fence. The two candidates are Jeff Merkley, who is currently the speaker of the Oregon House, and firebrand lawyer Steve Novick. Both seem like perfectly fine candidates. Merkley seems the more conventional candidate, with a fine resume of legislative service at the state level, while Novick has made a name for himself as an environmental lawyer who took on big pollution.
Gordon Smith, the two-term incumbent that one of these Democratic upstarts hopes to unseat, is your standard-issue, right-wing rubber stamper. However, his well-coiffed affability and perceived centrist demeanor gives him a bit of crossover appeal and has allowed him to serve two terms in the U.S. Senate representing what is ostensibly seen as a Democratic state. Part of his appeal, as you can clearly see below…
…is due in large part to his hair. Look at that lid. You’d be hard pressed to find another elder statesman in either chamber of the U.S. Congress with such marvelous hair (this includes the three recent Democratic House special election winners). One can easily get lost in his wavy browns. It is mesmerizing, and literally exudes gravitas. Smith is like the Samson of American politics; if you were to shave his head, he would literally cease to be a politician.
With this in mind, Merkley would appear as the safer bet, and conventional wisdom would decree that he matches up in the general with Gordon Smith. If you compare the photos of Merkley and Novick on their websites you’ll see Merkley’s smile featured prominently, a blissful grin that says “life is good, I’m a good person, I am generally satisfied with my life and my place in the world.” Novick’s smirk, on the other hand, says “I know you’re fucking your secretary.”
And, if you don’t already know, Novick is also a 4’9″ impish troll. And he has no left hand. Instead, he has a steel hook.
However, Novick is so resourceful that he makes all of this work to his advantage. You can’t help but like the guy and his non-conformist gumption. He has a mean streak, and he’s shown he’s not afraid to “stick it to the man”, whomever he or she may be or whatever power vacuum is being currently usurped.
But in recent weeks, up until tonight, the one thing that has swung the pendulum to Novick’s side has been television advertising. Not Novick’s, but Merkley’s2.
Exhibit A: one Merkley ad, which ran quite frequently, took Novick to task for trashing fellow Democrats. The irony was lost on Merkley, apparently, but this is politics. However, the quotes attributed to Novick were ripped from his off-the-cuff blog posts, and were taken largely out of context. This kinda pissed me off. I mean, if somebody took direct quotes from this blog, such as Rush Limbaugh “…is a fat, disgusting drug addict. He is a hypocrite, an unfortunate scion of pent up rage, unrequited hatred, and inordinate hubris…He is a wheezing, decrepit, decaying piece of rotting maggot filth…” or that Sandra Lee “…must either a) be fucking some exec at the Food Network or b) have a photo of the same exec in bed with a dead hooker or a live boy…” or simply, “Fuck you, Dick Cheney”, and attributed them directly to me, they’d be a) somewhat disingenuous, and b) entirely accurate.
Fair enough, but then tonight I saw another ad with Merkley and his daughter. Pimping your daughter out is one thing, however, I really don’t care about that (she’s only 11 or something and for all I know her dad is threatening to delete her MySpace profile), but the real crime was the ad used the font Comic Sans MS.
And for that reason, the official Guilty Carnivore Endorsement for Democrat for U.S. Senate goes to Mr. Steve Novick. Sir, now that you will ride my ringing endorsement to a primary victory, may I suggest your first course of action once the general campaign commences is to do something, anything, to demonize Gordon Smith’s hair. Perhaps a whisper campaign, that when it was a young buzzcut it was educated in a madrassa, or that it hangs out in the airport restroom.
1A bonus for not mailing your ballot early during a hotly contested presidential primary, I’ve discovered for the first time ever, is that each candidate will call you often. Just yesterday, the a campaign called me to ask if they could count on my vote for Hillary Clinton, who apparently is still in the race.
With all the calls, you start to feel good about yourself, like you’re a hot commodity, with many courters. Then it gets kinda weird and feels more like stalking, which in itself is not unwelcome, either.
2It should be noted that Gordon Smith himself is on the air, as well, but with two potential opposing candidates running neck-in-neck, the gist of his commercials has been “One of these guys is a total dick.”
…and Steve Novick…lost. But, in the sage words of one Bret Michaels, every rose has its thorn: the Republican candidate for the open U.S. congressional seat in my district will be the abortionist who threw cocaine-fueled sex parties on his yacht (allegedly). Happy day!