Steve Novick is used to being the smallest guy in virtually any room he enters. He's also used to being the smartest. The Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate relies on both to reach voters, especially in his first television ad that was released this week.




Nobody can blame Novick for trying to get the attention of Oregonians by overplaying the first thing anyone who meets him notices. He is only 4-feet, 9-inches tall and he has a hook prosthesis for a left hand. To say he doesn't fit the image of a senator is beyond obvious.




Novick's commericial shows three people who do fit the stereotype &

tall, good looking, expending almost fraudulent energy and cheer while saying, "I am Steve Novick, and I'm running for the U.S. Senate." &

before the camera pans down to Steve himself, open collared saying, "I'm the real Steve Novick."




It's a clever commercial that chases the elephant from the room for voters. He doesn't care he's short and has had to deal with disabilities his whole life, so why should you? This didn't stop him from graduating from Harvard at the age of 21, this didn't make him any less effective as the successful legal council in the Love Canal case, and this didn't hinder his legal challenge to excessive lottery payouts in Oregon.




The point is simple, he make not look the part, but he's clearly prepared to act the part. As Novick says in the commercial, "I will fight for the little guys."




Hopefully, as his campaign for the Democratic nomination against Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley moves to the forefront of local politics, Novick's political platform will become the only thing voters pay attention to. In the end, Novick must shift the focus away from the fact he is the smallest guy in the room, and use his obvious intelligence to prove he is the most capable guy on the ballot.




Novick's ability to disarm people will work to his favor. His humor is a welcome and refreshing change. He is anything but a politically washed and dried, spin-cycle candidate speaking only in elementary talking points.




But to be taken seriously, Novick must assure voters he is more than a clever, smart guy waging an unlikely bid for office. He must assure them that he commands the presence of a U.S. senator and will be successful on Capitol Hill. We've taken issue with earlier missteps where Novick's desire to make light of himself undermined how genuinely capable he really is (/2007/0920/stories/0920_edit_senate.php).




The commercial shows greater sophistication coming from the Novick camp as it seeks to wage a determined grassroots campaign on the merit of an unflinching platform of change. It's light-hearted and funny, but doesn't make Novick seem like a political sidelight.




While neither Merkley nor Novick drew large audiences on Monday when both spoke to groups at Southern Oregon University on the same day, both are waging a determined campaign. Both genuinely believe they can unseat incumbent Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore.




Merkley respects the fact that he is facing a serious primary opponent. Likewise, Novick is well aware that the Democratic National Committee anointed Merkley as its designated candidate. He is neither awed nor concerned.




"When I win the primary, they'll have to deal with me," Novick says matter of factly.




Which for Oregonians determined to elect serious-minded leaders willing to bring lasting change, might not be a bad thing at all.