Run, Tom, run, favorite son! (An open letter to Senator Coburn)

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CoburnPresidentYardSign.pngDear Sen. Coburn,

Today, Monday, December 5, 2011, marks the opening of the three-day filing period for school board seats in Oklahoma. It's also the filing period for Oklahoma's March 6, 2012, presidential preference primary. I am writing to urge you to file, to put your name on the Oklahoma ballot as a "favorite son" candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

In 40 years of watching presidential politics, I've never seen so many credible candidates leave the race (Pawlenty, Cain) or rule themselves out (Daniels, Ryan, Christie, Palin, Giuliani, Jindal, Jeb Bush, etc.) so early in the process, before a single real vote has been cast. At the same time, I've never seen Republican activists so reluctant to commit to a candidate. We're wary of investing our time, our money, and our hearts in a candidate that won't stay in the race for long. Here in Oklahoma, we're used to having our choices severely narrowed before our turn to vote; in 2012, Iowa and New Hampshire may know the same experience.

The remaining options are less than attractive. Mitt Romney is not a reliable conservative on any issue. Rick Santorum couldn't win re-election in his own state, and he endorsed RINO Arlen Specter for reelection over a solid fiscal conservative primary challenger, Pat Toomey, in 2004. Rick Perry can't seem to think on his feet, and there are some trouble things in his record as governor, as recent as his obstruction, subtle but effective, of Rep. David Simpson's anti-TSA-groping bill. Michele Bachmann says all the right words but doesn't display much depth of thought. Jon Huntsman seems to be more interested in impressing the mainstream media than connecting with the Republican base.

Ron "Free Bananas!" Paul's foreign policy views are naive and dangerous. In every interview I've heard of Gary Johnson, he seems to have a terminal case of the giggles. As incumbent governor of Louisiana, Buddy Roemer finished third to a crook (Edwin Edwards) and a Klansman (David Duke), and finished fourth in a comeback try four years later. Roemer naively believes that limiting campaign contributions will limit the influence of money in politics, but as long as politics has so much power to influence results in the private sector, money will find a way to flow into politics.

Coburn-BreachOfTrust.jpgNewt Gingrich is the leading anti-Romney of the moment. Gingrich has serious character problems, of which his serial polygyny is a mere symptom. (Isn't it ironic that the Mormon in the race, not the Baptist-turned-Cathoic, is the husband of one wife?) As you documented in your book Breach of Trust (and Bob Novak in his autobiography), Gingrich's character flaws extended to his leadership of the House of Representatives. For all his brilliance in the 1994 campaign to retake the House, his failures as speaker turned the Republican caucus from principled reform to careerism for the sake of power, laying the groundwork for the moral collapse of the Republican majority, the Pelosi speakership, the Obama presidency, and our current fiscal crisis.

Beyond his failures as a husband and as a congressional leader, Gingrich is a big-government conservative in an era where government must shrink to make space for private sector can grow. Being a visionary is a fine thing in the private sector, but as a self-proclaimed "Teddy Roosevelt Republican," Newt offers big ideas that depend upon massive government investment and intervention.

Sen. Coburn, you expressed your worries about Gingrich as recently as Sunday morning:

"The thing is there are all type of leaders. Leaders that instill confidence, leaders that are somewhat abrupt and brisk, leaders that have one standard for the people they are leading and different standard for themselves," Coburn said on Fox News Sunday. "I found his leadership lacking."

The best hope for across-the-board (fiscal, social, and defense) conservatives is for another candidate to emerge, but it's too late (believe it or not) for another candidate to enter and compete effectively in the primaries. Filing deadlines have already passed for New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, and Missouri. Oklahoma, Ohio, Louisiana, and Michigan close filing this week. By the time we know the result in New Hampshire, even more deadlines will have passed. Although Iowa has no filing deadline (the caucus straw poll is not binding), a win there would require creating a grassroots GOTV organization ex nihilo in less than a month.

Tom Coburn speaking on health care fraud, by Medill DC, on FlickrBut there is still a way for a "player to be named later" to become the Republican nominee. "Favorite son" candidates could file in each state, giving Republican voters a way to vote for "None of the Above" and to deny a majority of delegates to any of the currently active candidates, none of whom seem to have the right stuff to win the nomination, win the general election, and then steer the country decisively away from the fiscal Niagara Falls just around the next bend in the river.

I'm asking you, Sen. Coburn, to run in Oklahoma's primary as our favorite son.

Sure, any random Republican with the intention of serving as a placeholder for "None of the Above" could cut a check for $2,500 to put his name on the ballot. But Joe Random would have to raise huge amounts of money to publicize his reasons for running and to convince Oklahoma voters that he could be trusted with their votes.

You wouldn't have that problem, Sen. Coburn. The media, both local and national, would give a Coburn favorite son candidacy significant coverage. Oklahoma Republican voters already know and trust you (your TARP vote notwithstanding -- an error, but well-intentioned), and they know you are not driven by a lust for power. And if a win in Oklahoma turned into a national groundswell for a Coburn nomination, the vast majority of Oklahoma Republicans and fiscal conservatives nationwide would be very, very pleased.

If you should win the Oklahoma primary, as I expect you would, Oklahoma's 43 delegates would give you a seat at the table in deciding the outcome of a deadlocked national convention, helping to ensure that the Republican nominee is someone who understands the fiscal crisis that looms over our nation and who is prepared to act decisively to deal with it.

Please think it over, Sen. Coburn. Talk to your wife, your children, your closest advisers. Pray about it. Then get someone to the State Capitol, Room B-6, by Wednesday at 5 with a notarized form and a cashier's check for $2,500 -- for Oklahoma's sake, for America's sake.

Sincerely,

Michael D. Bates

P. S. Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates has a poll (311 Republican primary voters, Nov. 29 - Dec. 1, 2011, margin of error: +/- 4.3%) showing Gingrich with a commanding lead in Oklahoma -- 39% for Gingrich, everyone else in single digits, and 21% undecided. In August, Gingrich was at 5%. If you don't want Gingrich's lacking leadership at the top of the Republican ticket next fall, Sen. Coburn, you need to give voters a better alternative now.

Newt Gingrich 39%
Undecided (volunteered) 21%
Herman Cain 9%
Mitt Romney 9%
Rick Perry 8%
Ron Paul 7%
Michele Bachmann 5%
Rick Santorum 2%
John Huntsman 1%

Photo of Tom Coburn by Flickr user Medill DC, used under Creative Commons license.

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1 Comments

Roy said:

Second the motion.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 5, 2011 12:28 AM.

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