Bartlett Jr. formally, officially (in a prepared statement) dodges debate with Medlock

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On Friday, Republican mayoral candidate Chris Medlock challenged Dewey Bartlett Jr. to debate issues one-on-one "anytime, anywhere." Medlock and Bartlett Jr., both former city councilors, appear to be the leading candidates in the race for the Republican nomination for Mayor of Tulsa. From Medlock's press release:

Dewey Bartlett [Jr.] does not mention one issue on his website. Conservative Republican Chris Medlock is the only candidate who has placed a series of videos stating his positions on issues facing the city of Tulsa including fighting crime, fixing our streets, and getting back to the basics of city government. They are available on both his webpage and on a YouTube Channel.

Medlock stated, "If Dewey lacks the confidence to defend his positions on twice endorsing Democrat Kathy Taylor and then voting to give $7.1 million of taxpayer dollars away to Kathy's friends in the Great Plains Airlines Scandal, how can he ever back up his ads that claim that he is a conservative to the Republican Party?"

Medlock continued, "I am dedicated to getting the voters the information they deserve and confident of my knowledge of the critical issues facing our city. That is why I have stated my positions on specific policies facing the city of Tulsa on my web site. And I will contrast my conservative values against his left of center positions anytime, anywhere."

Rather than respond personally or even talk directly to a reporter, Bartlett Jr. sent out a prepared statement, according to a story in the Tulsa World:

But Bartlett, a former city councilor and president of Keener Oil & Gas, indicated in a prepared statement that a debate with Medlock is not needed.

"I've attended two candidate forums, both put on by the Republican Party, where I have publicly delivered my message, defended my platform and debated the issues," he said. "Media was present and reported from both events at the Tulsa Republican Club and the Tulsa Republican Women's Club."

Bartlett Jr. has appeared at two mass forums (the Republican Women's Club was one of them) in which he was either given the questions ahead of time or all candidates were asked exactly the same questions. He has not appeared on talk radio to field questions from the listeners, has not appeared at a forum to take questions directed to him, has not appeared in a debate situation where he could be asked questions by his opponents.

I have been told that Bartlett Jr.'s handlers ask three questions when his presence is requested at a public or media event where questions might be asked:

  1. Will we have the questions ahead of time?
  2. Will the same questions be asked of every candidate?
  3. If we say no, will the event go ahead without Bartlett Jr.?

This is the sort of thing we saw with the river tax and Vision 2025 vote -- the same people running Bartlett Jr.'s campaign ran the vote yes campaign for both elections. They would refuse to send a speaker to an event if the vote no side was to be allowed to participate, and it was a rare media outlet or civic group that refused to be held hostage by the vote yes side.

The Bartlett Jr. campaign's behavior shows that they don't have any confidence in their candidate's ability to answer tough questions. The PR people must think the real Bartlett Jr. is too unappealing and inadequate to risk giving the voters too much direct exposure. Seems to me that if a candidate was getting this kind of advice from his handlers, if he had any guts, any self-respect, he'd ditch his handlers and step up to the debate challenge, not cower behind an image spun out by a PR consultant.

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8 Comments

DanB said:

I don't know if it is a matter of Bartlett lacking "the confidence to defend his positions" or flat out lacking the confidence to STATE his positions.

Cheers to Chris Medlock for taking the time to state, for the record, his position on not one but several issues, all linked from his website on youtube. Go to http://www.youtube.com/user/ChrisMedlockForMayor#grid/all to see his positions.

Bob said:

A Conversative GOP-er? Dewey, Jr. ISN'T.

He's an archetypal RINO if there ever was one.

How does a self-proclaimed conservative GOP candidate Dewey, Jr. back Tax-and-Spend Democrat Liberal Kathy Taylor not Once, but TWICE for Mayor.

And, gleefully rubber-stamped handing $7.1 million in Tulsa taxpayer money over to Mayor Taylor's former employer: Bank of Oklahoma.

That made George Kaiser VERY happy.

Apparently, Junior also appears spineless, refusing to debate or answer any questions in voter forums that his handlers haven't screened in advance.

To Tulsa voters: Meet WORM-Boy.

Brooksider Author Profile Page said:

Much is made of Dewey Jr not having managed a large organization, and I agree. But I don't see where Chris Medlock has. He doesn't mention his business experience. How can you criticize Bartlett for a weakness and not Medlock for the same?

I'm not aware of any candidate other than Bartlett selling the idea that he's qualified to run city government because he's a businessman and has "created jobs." Bartlett claims it's why he won't need on the job training.

DanB said:

Bartlett has presented his business experience as a key strength for his ability to be Mayor. It is valid to look to his actual record as a business man to try to evaluate how he would act as Mayor. It is also prudent to examine his record on various boards, such as the Airport Trust, to see how he has conducted himself in the past.

By the same token it is equally valid to evaluate Medlock, who has focused on his experience as a City Councilor, by his record as a City Councilor. What was his role in bringing new business to Tulsa? Did he demonstrate prudent oversight of City funds?

I'll be honest. I've scored the two candidates in my mind, and I've made my decision. Admittedly, I might have scored them differently if I knew any of Bartlett's positions on major issues facing the city (Police & Fire Dept. budget, At-Large Councilors, Sanctuary City, Crime, Street repair, etc.), but since he pretty much hasn't answered any of those questions, he gets scored appropriately.

Brooksider Author Profile Page said:

But what are qualifications for being mayor? Political vision isn't enough, everyone offers some vision or other. Effectiveness as mayor requires skills, or hiring people with specific skills. It's not enough to say "I believe this," or "I want to do that." Jack Henderson can do that. It's not enough just to subscribe to a particular set of values (liberal, conservative, libertarian, religious) because that doesn't automatically lead to better government.

I want to know who a candidate will appoint to key positions, what those individuals' qualifications are, how will funded projects be managed, how will the new mayor deal with the several unions representing employees, and much more. We all have access to the City budget, organizational charts, and existing contracts. Medlock has seen this process up close, but I don't get any feeling he was paying attention to anything more than what will get him elected. I must add that I'm not particularly pleased with anyone in the running. So help me. How does one wisely choose?

NathanS said:

John R actually makes a valid point. The mayor prior to Taylor demonstrated that claiming a particular set of religious/political stripes means very little in local politics.
However John R then lays out a bunch of dubious criteria that might actually be good in theory (though not likely to stir the hearts of local voters), but fails to apply that criteria in a meaningful way to ANY candidate. (ie Roger Randle said/did _____ and I like it because _____ and it later worked because _____). He then goes on to say that he thinks Medlock was only interested in ". . . what will get him elected" but again, fails to give a specific example.
John R ends with "I must add that I'm not particularly pleased with anyone in the running . . ." which comes across as a desperate attempt for credibility from someone who is totally in the tank. I do not think John R will be voting Medlock even if Chris does everything on his list.
I would vote for Medlock for the following reasons. 1) He got the Tulsa Hills shopping center for his District, which shows me he is pro growth. 2) He was attacked by special interest groups for NOT being a rubber stamp to builder associations, which shows me he is for the right kind of growth. 3) His being recalled shows me that he will stand up for what he believes in when the cost is high, as he could have just caved to the pressure that was applied to him. 4) His defeating the recall shows me that his constituents were happy with the job he was doing.
I could go on with more actual FACTS, that support my decision for Medlock. There are two possible reasons John R is not using actual facts: 1) John R does not care about the facts 2) The facts as they stand do not help John R's position.

Brooksider Author Profile Page said:

I don't have a position, except that being mayor is a tough job requiring exceptional leadership and organizational skills, as well as a clear community vision. Being mayor today is different from being mayor 15 years ago, or even 8 years ago. And it's very different from being a City councilor. I don't think Dewey Bartlett has anything to offer except a famous relation. I'm not sure Tom Adelson could do the job. Maybe Chris Medlock is the best candidate. There's just something, not sure what, that worries me about him.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 22, 2009 4:50 PM.

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