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Kitzhaber Backs Liberal Pantywaist 

Steve Novick, campaigning for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, picked up a valuable endorsement this week - that of former Gov.

Steve Novick, campaigning for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, picked up a valuable endorsement this week - that of former Gov. John Kitzhaber.

The two-term governor, still arguably the most popular political figure in the state although he hasn't held an elective office since 2003, said at a news conference Monday that he was backing Novick because he is "a committed fighter for progressive causes - and his primary weapon is the truth. More than any other candidate in this race, Steve has not only identified the great challenges facing America, but has also candidly described the difficulties involved with overcoming them. He has offered substantive solutions to the pressing problems we face." (Watch the video here.)

Meanwhile, Novick - who's attracted national attention for offbeat campaign ads poking fun at his 4-foot-9 stature and the hook he has for a left hand - got some more publicity from Roll Call, Washington's Capitol Hill newspaper.

The paper noted in its "Heard on the Hill" column (available only to subscribers) that Novick carries business cards describing himself as a "labor-loving, latte-liberal pantywaist." The cards also bear the old Communist hammer-and-sickle logo in one corner.

"Turns out the business cards were a gag gift from one of Novick's pals, Chris Warner, now an aide to Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski," Roll Call explains. "The tagline borrows from a 1999 Oregonian feature story that actually praised Novick, who was then the head of a nonprofit, for opposing a rival's tax proposal that the newspaper said would have cut the state's budget by 15 percent. The headline of the story, which became an inside joke among Novick's friends, read 'Labor-loving, Latte-Liberal Pantywaist Cries Wolf.'"

Novick told Roll Call that though he sips a latte once in a while he's no pantywaist, because "a pantywaist is a wimp, and I consider myself to be a fierce advocate for progressive causes."

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