SALEM &

Portland attorney and political activist Steve Novick on Monday launched the first TV ad of Oregon's U.S. Senate race.

Novick and Oregon House speaker Jeff Merkley of Portland are vying for the Democratic Party's nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Gordon Smith in the November general election.

Novick was born with multiple physical disabilities. He stands 4-foot-9 and has a metal hook for a left hand, traits he uses in his breakout ad to tell voters that he doesn't look like the typical politician, and won't act like one either.

"The first job in politics is to be remembered," Novick says in the 30-second television spot. "It so happens I have physical features that are memorable."

A former U.S. Justice Department environmental lawyer who litigated the Love Canal case that ultimately led to a $129 million judgment against a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum in 1995, Novick says in the ad, "I will fight for the little guy."

Novick's campaign manager, Jake Weigler, said the ad is running currently in Portland and Eugene, and will begin airing in Southern Oregon next week.

The Novick ad began running the same day his campaign announced his most recent fundraising numbers.

Novick, who formally launched his campaign last spring, has raised a total of $541,000 as of Dec. 31, and has $293,000 cash-on-hand, Weigler said.

Merkley, the favorite among Democratic heavyweights, reported raising $619,000 from October through December.

Since entering the Democratic race, Merkley has raised $913,000, with $528,000 in the bank, his spokesman Russ Kelley said.

Kelley noted that Merkley's fundraising efforts represent the best two-quarter totals that a challenger for Senate has ever posted in the state, shattering the previous record by Democrat Bill Bradbury in 2002.

covers politics for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at csrizo@hotmail.com.