2006 primary observations, part 1

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First (and probably briefest) in a series:

Tulsa County DA Tim Harris prevailed over a tough challenge, but a few other incumbent District Attorneys didn't make it.

Tim Kuykendall, 12-year DA in Cleveland, McClain, and Garvin counties, lost to challenger Greg Mashburn, 63% to 37%. While Tim Harris was criticized for having too high a conviction rate (supposedly an indication that he was cherry-picking cases and wasn't filing charges he should have), Kuykendall was criticized by Mashburn for "winning only 34% of jury trials." Like Brett Swab in Tulsa County, Mashburn made an issue of FOP endorsements.

Richard Gray, one-term incumbent DA for Wagoner, Sequoyah, Cherokee, and Adair Counties, finished first in his Democratic primary, but barely. Gray was hurt by the legal problems of one of his aides Vyrl Keeter (who had also been an aide to former Congressman Brad Carson). Keeter pled guilty to perjury and has some other charges pending. 170 votes separate Gray from second-place finisher Jerry Moore, and the runoff's winner will face Republican Brian Kuester.

John David Luton has been Muskogee County DA since 1992, but this was the first time he ever had to run for office. He was appointed by Governor David Walters and never faced an opponent until this year. He lost by a two-to-one margin to Larry Moore, a former assistant DA from Fort Gibson.

Tim Harris's re-election win is all the more impressive in light of successful challenges in these other DA districts.

Ordinarily, a public official would be happy to be re-elected without opposition, but it can be a bad thing. A campaign is a time to reconnect with the voters, to explain to them what you're doing, and to hear their concerns. Without the need to campaign, an official can be so focused on just getting the job done that he fails to explain to his bosses -- the people who elected him -- what he's been accomplishing on their behalf.


Bledsoe said:

Michael: I posted this over at Tulsa Now. I would appreciate your take.

I predicted in a related post that Harris would win by 1 or 2%--he won by 4%.

See: http://www.tulsanow.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4523
Tulsa Now Forum - Buddy Fallis endorses Swab for District Attorney

In this morning's TW, Swab complains of "low voter trunout" as a factor in his loss. Actually the turnout in this contested Republican primary was higher this year (about 39,000) than in the summer of 1998 when there was a three-way race between Turnbull, Richardson and Harris (about 34,000). If we look at historic primary turn-out, I suspect this will be the largest every for Republicans in the State (non-Presidential) election cycle.

According to the County Election board about 62,000 people voted yesterday, almost 19% of the county's eligible voters. However, 2/3 were Republicans.

See: http://www.tulsacounty.org/electionboard/EB_PDF/Election_Results/Election%20Results%20July%2025,%202006%20(Summary).pdf
Election Results July 25, 2006 (Summary).pdf (application/pdf Object)

I think Swab ran about as good a contest as you can expect in a race like this with no scandal for the incumbent. I think this means Harris has this job as long as he wants it unless he makes some really bad mistake in the future. His base with activated Republican Evagelicals is secure. The mid-town based silk-stocking Republicans have lost control of their party and I do not see them regaining it anytime soon.

I think the only way Harris can be challenged in the future is from a conservative "Christian" Democrat (a Kathy Taylor type) with access to lots of money and then only if there are real problems in the office and/or in the County (like Wes Lane in Oklahoma County who is being challenged by a Democrat and is running scared or the LaFortune/Taylor contest after Medlock beat up Bill).

Perhaps if there had been a rich conservative Buddy Fallis-like Democrat running this time to pick up the fallen mantel of Swab-garner the police union endorcements in the general election and run on Brad Henry's increasingly longer coat tails in November--Harris could have been picked off in the general. But wait, except for being rich, that pretty much sounds like David Moss. Alas--it was not to be.

Comments? Opinions?

Paul Tay said:

Santa was in Wagoner County in June rolling a Gray sign. Wondered if it made the diff to pull in the 170 suckers.

Some of Swab's wise guys tried to pick a fight with Santa while rolling Tim 4 DA sign at 51st and Harvard. Santa quickly explained he's actually for Swab. Rolling signs on bicycles in this crummy town pisses motorists off. So, maybe they take it out on Tim on election day. The Swab wise guys were laughing their fat asses off as they gave Santa a 5 dollar bill.

Oh boy howdy, I can just hear the conversation back at the Swab HQ.

Hey, Dad, we just saw Santa rolling Tim 4 DA sign on a bicycle. He's actually campaigning for you by pissing motorists off and blocking traffic. So, we gave him a 5 dollaaaa bill.

Son, you dumber than turkey on T-Day, ain't ya?

BAD SANTA!!! Oh BTW, World Santa Claus Congress is happening in Bakken, Denmark this week. Heard on NPR.

Anyways, Merry Christmas, Tim!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 27, 2006 12:33 AM.

From the "Where are they now?" department was the previous entry in this blog.

The anti-pork scorecard: 4 of 5 Oklahoma reps get failing grades is the next entry in this blog.

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