Oklahoma Senate 33: Adelson muddies the waters


The trend among Democrat campaigns this year is to blur distinctions, to pose the Democrat as a conservative, and to pretend that the Republican is not really a good conservative. We've seen this in the presidential race, and in the U. S. Senate race in Oklahoma, where Democrats have tried to find some pretext for laying claim to the pro-life mantle, while trying to paint their Republican opponents as insufficiently pro-life.

In one sense, this is an encouraging trend, inasmuch as it demonstrates that conservatives are on many issues setting the terms of the debate. The question is whether the voters will understand how Democrat candidates are trying to trick them into believing that up is down and left is right.

That technique has been filtering down into state legislative races. A friend who lives in House District 23 received a hit piece by Democrat David Mitchell Garrett, Jr., attacking Republican incumbent Sue Tibbs. I haven't seen the ad, but it shook up my friend, a good conservative, enough to make him wonder whether he should vote for Sue Tibbs. A flyer saying "she's too conservative" would not have fazed my friend, so I'm guessing the ad said she wasn't conservative enough. I assured him that Sue Tibbs is the conservative candidate in the race and is a great state legislator.

In Senate District 33, a seat made open by term limits, Republican former Tulsa City Councilor Dewey Bartlett Jr. is making a strong run in a long-time Democrat seat against Democrat Tom Adelson. Adelson is responding to the challenge by distorting Dewey Bartlett's record.

Last night I received photocopies of four mail pieces sent out by the Adelson campaign. One has a picture of a senior with his head in his hands and the caption "Taxes too high?" On the reverse, you see a kind of split screen -- Bartlett on the left against a dark background, photoshopped to look like he's holding a big bag of money; Adelson on the right against a light background with a kind of smirk on his face. The text on Bartlett's side says that as a city councilor, "Dewey raised city sales taxes by $230 million." On Adelson's side it says, "Tom Adelson says NO to tax hikes without a vote of the people." (The piece doesn't have the word Bartlett anywhere on it, apparently to avoid triggering positive memories of Dewey Bartlett Sr., the popular Republican governor and senator.

The vote in question was to put a renewal of the City of Tulsa's "third penny" sales tax for capital improvements before a vote of the people. As far as I remember, all nine councilors voted in favor of putting the proposition before the people. The vote didn't and couldn't raise the sales tax -- only the citizens could do that -- and it was a renewal of a tax, not a tax increase. Did Tom Adelson oppose the 1991 third penny renewal?

Surely Adelson knows better. His leading supporters, among whom is at least one member of Savage's staff during her time as mayor, know better. It's a shame to see someone who could have run and honest and honorable campaign put out a blatantly dishonest piece. This ought to make even partisan Democrats think twice about voting for Tom Adelson.

I'm sure the Democrats' cognitive dissonance approach to campaigning will work with some voters, but I'm hopeful that most Oklahomans can recognize it when a campaign is distorting reality to this extent.

(You can read an Urban Tulsa interview with Bartlett and Adelson on Dewey Bartlett's campaign website.)

One more thing: Have a look at the questionnaires and voter guides linked above. It's striking in how many cases the Democrat candidate refused even to return a questionnaire, much less respond. For example, in House District 78, Democrat Jeannie McDaniel failed to respond to the questionnaires of the Oklahoma Family Policy Council, Oklahomans for Life, and the Oklahoma Prosperity Project. (Republican David Schaffer replied to all of them.) That can only mean that the candidate is out of accord with the aims of the organization issuing the questionnaire but is unwilling to say so on the record.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 1, 2004 8:24 PM.

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