Bartlett Jr misfires on Adelson "traitor" quote

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(UPDATED 2009/09/10 9:00 a.m. -- KRMG's Joe Kelley has audio of Adelson's alleged negative attack on Bartlett Jr -- see below.)

I guess it must be part of the Ahlgren & Holland playbook: Accuse your opponent of going negative before he actually has. Then you can attack your opponent while making it seem that he's attacking you. They did it to Chris Medlock last weekend, with a mailer that lied about Medlock having lied about opponents in previous campaigns.

The first negative shot fired in the Tulsa mayoral general election campaign came today from Republican nominee Dewey Bartlett Jr, who accused Democratic nominee Tom Adelson of going negative. I have been unable to find any media coverage of a negative remark by Adelson against Bartlett Jr, and the KTUL story did not mention whether Bartlett Jr provided details of the alleged attack. Here is the shot that Bartlett Jr fired at Adelson:

"Tom Adelson not only opposed the income tax reductions supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, he actually called conservative Democrat Brad Henry a "traitor who should be shot" because the governor supported the largest reduction in the state income tax in state history," Bartlett said.

Here's what Adelson actually said, back in May of 2006, according to a Tulsa World story:

Putting the annual state budget puzzle together got a little more complicated for Gov. Brad Henry on Tuesday.

His Democratic allies in the state Senate rebelled against a proposed tax-and-spending deal he announced with House Speaker Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville, on Monday....

For some Democrats on Tuesday, the issue seemed personal.

Sen. Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa, said he was so angry at the deal that he has asked Henry to return a $5,000 campaign contribution he had made to Henry's re-election campaign.

"I understand the historical observation is that we treat prisoners of war humanely but we shoot traitors," Adelson said.

Anyone with reading comprehension skills will understand Adelson's point: Those who are actively and honestly opposing you are easier to treat with kindness than allies who betray your cause.

At the time, the OCPA's Brandon Dutcher was reminded of Gov. Frank Keating's infamous "homicide" crack:

You'll no doubt recall that former Gov. Frank Keating got into all kinds of hot water when he suggested in 2000 that "homicide" might be the proper course of action for dealing with the state's largest labor union. A quick archives search turned up no shortage of stories and editorials in The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and the Journal Record mentioning the "homicide" remark. By contrast, the Adelson remark has (so far as I can tell) garnered but one sentence in one newspaper.

Now I realize that the remarks of a Governor are more newsworthy than the remarks of one state senator. And I realize that Sen. Adelson is a fine man and was merely joking (just as Gov. Keating was joking in 2000). But one has to wonder what the gatekeepers would have done if a conservative state senator had broached the idea of putting a bullet in a sitting Governor. Or if he had called him a "traitor." (After all, is it appropriate, especially in wartime, to use the word "traitor" over a mere policy disagreement?)

The gist of the Bartlett Jr press conference was that Adelson strongly objected to the 2006 state income tax cut, a tax cut that had the support of many Democrats (including Gov. Brad Henry) and nearly all Republicans. I feel sure that had Bartlett Jr won that 2004 election, he would have voted for the state tax cut.

Here in Tulsa, however, I can't recall a single local tax initiative that Dewey Bartlett Jr or Tom Adelson ever opposed. In fact, Bartlett Jr praised and voted in support of a settlement deal in the Great Plains Airlines default lawsuit. That deal resulted in additional property tax being levied on Tulsa's taxpayers to cover the settlement of over $7 million. Before casting his vote, Bartlett Jr praised Democratic Mayor Kathy Taylor, whom he also endorsed for re-election, for organizing the rotten deal for taxpayers. And Bartlett Jr backed a proposed city charter amendment that would have packed the City Council with more representation from areas favorable to higher local taxes.

MORE: KRMG's Joe Kelley asked the Bartlett campaign about Adelson's alleged negative attack:

I was informed that it was from Tom Adelson's interview with me at 8:23am Wednesday (9/09). I didn't recall anything specific from that interview that struck me as 'negative,' so I went back and re-listened.

Click here to hear Joe Kelley's interview with Tom Adelson from September 9, 2009.

Click here to go back to the start of this entry.

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Terry Bradshaw said:

Brad Henry is a conservative Democrat?!?

S. Lee said:

It could be that Dewey is a little nervous because he got only 54% of the Republican vote even though he had a lot more money. If I recall correctly, his nasty attacks against Susan Savage played a big part in his loss to her.

The A Team said:

Misfire? I'd say it's a backfire.

Jamison said:

RINO Dewey thinks Brad Henry is a conservative? Extremely uninformed... he is anything but, and so is Dewey.

Brooksider Author Profile Page said:

Good reporting. It may be difficult for the average voter to distinguish between the two, so quotes from interviews, their records in current or previous offices, as well as their campaign pitches, are fair game. But do people care? Do they have the time or the energy to look discerningly at the candidates? Adelson is well-known and a relatively popular state official. Bartlett is, well, a Bartlett, and a former City Councilor. Keep reporting on the issues, Mike, and may the least harmful candidate win.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 9, 2009 6:07 PM.

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