Vote for a runoff

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A survey of 12,000 likely Republican voters done by the Brogdon campaign last week showed Fallin at 37%, Brogdon at 26%, and 37% undecided. The trend over a similar survey six weeks earlier had Fallin virtually flat with a significant shift of undecideds moving to Brogdon, surging by 15 points over that time. Meanwhile, an opinion poll that was taken a week ago but only released today suggests that Fallin would win without a runoff.

A Fallin victory without a runoff worries me.

We saw in 2002 what happens to a Republican nominee for governor who skates through the primary and isn't prepared for a tough general election battle. (The reason Steve Largent got a free pass in the 2002 primary is because Mary Fallin flinched from a planned run for governor.)

In 2006, Republican leaders jumped on the Ernest Istook bandwagon. He won without a runoff but was clobbered in the general election by a weak incumbent.

In Tulsa, we have seen what happens when a Republican with a famous name is allowed to skate through the primary without facing a debate. His famous name, a lot of money, an elaborate PR campaign, and a liberal opponent got him through the general election. But the PR specialists are gone now, and in eight short months since then, he has managed to alienate every single city councilor, even those who had endorsed him and supported his policy initiatives. He has so poisoned the atmosphere at City Hall that his resignation may be the only way to move the city forward.

His flaws as a leader were evident during the campaign to those who cared to look. Those Republican leaders who protected him from scrutiny and tough questions because of his name, his money, and the prospect of a Republican in the mayor's office should look at the wreckage and apologize to the people of Tulsa.

Oklahoma can't afford the same failure of leadership. The conservative cause in Oklahoma can't afford to be discredited by another failed Republican chief executive. Nor can we afford a general election loss because our standard-bearer was unprepared to handle the tough questions she managed to dodge during the primary.

A Fallin win without a runoff would be a shame. I'd like to think that the Oklahoma Republican electorate that had the wisdom to choose Tom Coburn, a late entrant into the 2004 Senate race, over the heavily-financed and -endorsed Oklahoma Mayor Kirk Humphreys, would have the discernment not to give Mary Fallin a pass to the general election on the strength of a slick and shiny but vague campaign.

I can understand a front-runner not wishing to stoop to a debate with a bunch of perennial also-rans, but by refusing to debate, Mary Fallin has treated Randy Brogdon (and his supporters and Oklahoma Republicans in general) with undeserved contempt. Brogdon is a leader in the State Senate with a long list of legislative accomplishments, in addition to his many years of business experience and his service as Owasso's mayor. Brogdon's governing philosophy and his specific plans for Oklahoma deserve a serious, specific response from Fallin.

There is a way for Republican voters to force a debate, and that's to deny Fallin a majority tomorrow. A runoff gives us a month to focus on a single office and two candidates. It gives voters a chance to see whether Fallin or Brogdon is best prepared to win in November and govern Oklahoma. It forces Fallin to engage on the issues, so we can see whether she has hitherto-unsuspected depths or whether the PR-generated image is all there is.

If you're undecided, you can buy yourself more time to scrutinize the candidates by showing up at the polls and voting for anyone except Fallin. Showing up and voting for Brogdon or one of the other two candidates increases the total pool of votes and mathematically reduces Fallin's percentage. Staying home or leaving the governor's race blank gets her closer to 50% with the same number of votes. 51 votes out of 100 cast is a 51% majority, but 51 votes out of 103 is 49%, and it means a runoff in August.

I hope you'll vote for Randy Brogdon tomorrow, but at the very least, I hope you'll vote for a runoff by showing up at the polls and voting for anyone but Fallin.

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... and this is part of why I'm voting for Robert Hubbard. It's still a vote for principle, and is a vote to keep Fallin from avoiding a runoff.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 26, 2010 12:10 PM.

Election 2010: Campaign help wanted was the previous entry in this blog.

KOTV finds Dahm claims on Sullivan record "misleading" is the next entry in this blog.

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