2nd District candidates in final sprint
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Sunday, August 26, 2012
8/27/12 at 9:59 AM
Correction: A Sunday Tulsa World photo caption misspelled the name of 2nd Congressional District Republican candidate Markwayne Mullin. This story has been corrected.
Read all the election coverage.
Elisha Krauss, campaign manager for Republican George Faught, says the 2nd District congressional primary and runoff campaign has been a little like the Olympic 1,500-meter run: 90 percent jockeying for position and 10 percent finishing sprint.
And the finishing sprint is on.
The four candidates contesting Tuesday's CD 2 Republican and Democratic runoffs have been dashing from one end of the far-flung district to the other the past few days, and they will continue to do so through Monday night, entreating every voter possible before the polls close at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
"This district is about relationships," Krauss said. "It's not about multimedia or television. It's about handshakes."
Faught, a three-term state representative from Muskogee, is generally considered the underdog against political newcomer Markwayne Mullin. Runoff elections can be tricky, though, especially with a spread-out electorate like the 2nd District's. Although Tulsa television reaches a majority of it, complete coverage requires buying spots in six markets - Tulsa; Oklahoma City; Ada/Sherman, Texas; Joplin, Mo.; Fort Smith, Ark.; and Shreveport, La.
And nobody can afford to do that.
"Seventy percent of the Republicans are covered by Tulsa television," said Mullin's campaign manager, Tim Ross.
"There are pockets of voters where you try to schedule events. Phones are still good. Email is still good."
Republicans in CD 2 tend to live north of Interstate 40, but Democrats are everywhere. That makes it a little more challenging for Democratic runoff opponents Wayne Herriman and Rob Wallace.
"At the end of the day, it's about talking on phones, knocking on doors, being at events," said Herriman's campaign manager, Tony Coppola.
Wallace, by way of example, was in Henryetta, Wilburton, McAlester, Poteau, Sallisaw, Stilwell and Muskogee on Saturday. He plans to be in Valliant, Idabel, Atoka, Antlers, Hugo, Durant and McAlester on Monday.
Historically, runoff election turnout is much lower than for a primary, so get-out-the-vote efforts are especially important. Generally, campaigns concentrate their efforts first on people who voted in the primary and second on those who have a record of voting but didn't in June.
All four candidates will be advertising on Tulsa and Ada/Sherman television, and some have bought time on Fort Smith stations, too.
Direct mail, though, can be even more effective, especially in a runoff, because it is much more targeted than television.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Republican and Democratic voters have been hearing different messages.
On the Republican side, the debate is over which candidate is better able to fight "big government" and the Obama administration - and in particular the Affordable Care Act, known as Obama- care.
While there is some of that on the Democratic side, the campaign has revolved more around the candidates' backgrounds - Herriman's as a successful businessman, Wallace's as a state and federal prosecutor.
Herriman has tried to portray Wallace as incompetent, calling attention to the former district and assistant U.S. attorney's involvement in two failed mining ventures in the 1990s and some plea bargains that went bad.
Wallace's camp, meanwhile, says Herriman is totally unprepared to serve in Congress, pointing to his unwillingness to debate Wallace and reluctance to take definitive positions on issues.
And to that extent, the Republican and Democratic campaigns have been similar.
Herriman and Mullin have tried to play up their lack of experience, and in the process paint Wallace and Faught as political careerists.
Wallace and Faught, meanwhile, have labeled their respective opponents untested and potentially dangerous.
Coincidentally, three of the four will end the runoff race with watch parties in Muskogee on Tuesday night.
The fourth, Mullin, will have his party in Claremore.
Original Print Headline: CD 2 race in final sprint
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365