A Name Synonymous with the Massachusetts Republican Party … Larry Novak
FROM OUR JUNE 1, 2019 PRINTED EDITION
by Lonnie Brennan
I thought it would be interesting to catch up with Larry Novak and share a bit of his legendary activist work with readers who may not know him, but might find inspiration from his more than 50 years of Republican activism.
Novak, a retired attorney, started working for candidates when he was 16 years old, supporting Republicans and working in the local Party headquarters. Larry is best described as tenacious, tough and shrewd – in anything he does – either in politics or in law.
First, his work for the Republican Party is legendary. He has awards all over his home that show how grateful Republican candidates and organizations have been to have his support. He holds the record as the longest-serving chairman of the Brockton Republican City Committee. He’s the former vice chairman and treasurer of the Mass. Republican Party, and served as a Republican state committeeman from 1984 to 2009.
Approximately 18 months ago, Larry was recruited again to take the helm of the Brockton Republican City Committee in its darkest hours. In a Democrat-dominated city, the committee had suffered a decline, dipping to just 16 members on the ballot, and a reported $67 in the treasury. Seldom did the committee even get a quorum to a meeting. Today, with Larry’s stewardship, the committee has seen a rebirth, hosting a welcoming winter social (which I enjoyed speaking at and introducing the Boston Broadside to so many members), and today the committee stands at more than 120 members.
Every ward in the city of Brockton is organized thanks to Larry Novak. The committee leads in fundraising in the Senate district. In the totals for 2018, Brockton raised $5,096. Easton raised $0. East Bridgewater raised $236. Halifax raised $0. Hanover raised $407. Hanson raised $15. Whitman, home to former Senate candidate Geoff Diehl, raised $3,100.
It’s a pretty amazing feat that the poorest and the most Democratic community in the Senate district (the 2nd Plymouth & Bristol) outraised all of the other communities combined, a city where only 7% of residents are registered Republicans.
Most importantly, Novak is working on a plan to bring 5,000 unenrolled voters who used to be registered Republicans back to the Republican Party.
Novak’s house, which is on the west side of Brockton, sits on an acre of manicured lawn. On the walls of his 10-room house sit his citations, one from the Massachusetts Senate which caught my attention recognized Novak’s work for the Republican Party. This citation reads: “In recognition of your service and dedication to the Republican Party of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” Signed by Thomas Birmingham, President of the State Senate, offered by Brian Lees, May 14, 1998. Next to that is an award from the Brockton Republican City Committee naming Novak the Man of the Year.
Novak’s house is adorned with pictures showing his work with former Republican presidents and Republican leaders. He was a close political ally of former Congresswoman Margaret Heckler who served as President Reagan’s Secretary of Health and Human Services and Ambassador to Ireland. With regret, he noted that he was unable to attend Mrs. Heckler’s funeral recently, as he was taking care of his 94-year-old mother.
Novak served on the Brockton School Committee in the ’80s, becoming the first Republican on the Committee in 30 years, a seat that’s remained for the most part in Republican hands for the next 25 years. It is presently occupied by a Republican. Novak’s common sense and dedication to constituent work has made this seat remain Republican in Brockton, one of only two seats that the Republican Party holds in the city. But Novak is most proud of a saying on the wall by Winston Churchill, and I quote: “A political party which goes down to defeat fighting will rise again from the ashes of defeat. A political party which surrenders its belief will disappear into the pages of history.”
Time for a Republican Party Rebirth
Larry Novak believes that the Massachusetts Republican Party must in August fill all of the ward and town committee positions in Brockton and beyond. “By filling these seats, it encourages voters to see that the Party is organized and shows candidates that there is a support system or mechanism to help them if they decide to run. It shows the voters that the Republican Party should be taken seriously and is on the road to becoming a major force again,” Novak said.
“I served with the legendary Ray Shamie, who was the chairman that rebuilt the Republican Party in the late ’80s, early ’90s, where 2,300 votes swung the other way to help the Republican Party,” Novak said. “That model used by Ray Shamie, of filling the town committees and increasing the role of the activist helped us grow. While we almost captured the state Senate in 1990, we did, however win 16 or 17 seats and came very close in three or four others. We won two Governor Council seats. The model shows that the more activity the Party creates, the more electable the Party becomes.”
Novak has raised money for a diverse range of Republican candidates and committees, including but not limited to: Governor Weld, Governor Paul Celluci, Treasurer Joe Malone, Congresswoman Margaret Heckler, Senator Edward Brooke, Arthur Chase, Peter Forman, Bill Sawyer, the Brockton
Republican City Committee, the Mass. Republican Party and the Mass. Republican Lawyers Association.
I asked Novak when he had time to practice law! He said he spends a lot of time on politics and has a good staff, a true and committed Republican.
According to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Novak is the largest donor to Republican causes in the 2nd Plymouth District. He has donated over $194,000 since 2002. Novak is always in motion. He’s having a fundraiser for the Brockton Republican City Committee on June 19, 2019 at Thorny Lea Country Club in Brockton.
Most interesting, he’s now writing a book on the 1982 race between Congresswoman Margaret Heckler and Barney Frank, hoping to have the book published in late fall. I asked Novak about that race and why Margaret Heckler lost. He gave one reason: We were outspent two to one.
Why Recognize Larry Novak?
One of the things we would like to do now is to showcase candidates who will be running for office and perhaps, just as importantly, showcase those who support the candidates. Novak has been involved in every aspect of political life from stuffing envelopes to running a campaign as a campaign manager for governor. He has assisted Republicans at all levels from city school committee to governor to president. He’s a doer and not a talker. (Well, OK, he does talk, certainly to me, and at length on multiple occasions, but he walks the walk!) While at his home, I saw one of his old campaign slogans – Performance and Not Promises. That is a slogan that fits Larry Novak well.
In addition to serving as chair of the Brockton Republican City Committee, Novak has been doing a radio program on Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on 1530 AM radio (you can catch his streaming online if you’re not in the area). It’s one of the most talked-about Republican shows on the South Shore and snagged our newspaper’s attention.
On his radio program, Novak doesn’t back away from the fact that he’s a Republican. He continues to promote the Republican agenda. He’s led the fight against Sanctuary Cities which is a hot issue in the city of Brockton. He opposes Sanctuary Cities and realizes that we must do more to dislodge radical left-wing Democrats from the City Council seats. It is a growing concern to him how the progressive left is taking over local government. There are candidates running for mayor in his city promoting an aggressive left-wing agenda. Larry is trying to organize the Republicans into a unified voting-bloc push-back, and stop the takeover.
Ah, how the rumors can fly. Mr. Novak is being urged to run either for the state Senate or Congress or some political office by various local Republicans. When asked about it, he was uncharacteristically coy, and I let him off the hook. He said, he has made no decision to run for anything “as of yet.” He wishes to rebuild the Brockton Republican City Committee and rebuild the Party in the Senate district. He will be opening up a political action committee called the 2nd Plymouth Bristol Political Action Committee to give money to local candidates. He said, “Our biggest shortfall is we don’t field candidates at all offices. We’re disappearing in key areas of the state. The long-term prognosis is not good for the Republican Party unless we run candidates and have a grassroot operation. You get people because they believe in ideas. They become involved.”
“In 1990, we ran a full slate of candidates. The candidates that lost,” Larry said, “well, individually, they have remained active in the Republican Party for 20 to 25 years so far. We must continue to do that: running candidates at every opportunity and filling the grassroots. They become your future. They become your sign locations, your future donors, and they become more involved in helping the community.”
I asked Larry what his biggest fight has been. Surprisingly, he said it was about trying to get extra help for students. He explained that when he was chairman at Massasoit Community College, he had a fight with the unions over requiring the teachers to be in their offices for students where they could come to get extra help. That apparently turned into a major battle. Novak said “we must continue our fight. Our cause is right and just.” ♦
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