Today on NPR's All Things Considered, one of the hosts was ruminating on why we hadn’t heard much from Bill Clinton lately. Well, we in Norman heard a lot since he headlined a rally at the OU Field House yesterday. The national news was covering Barack Obama’s rally, which was located in Denver. Barack Obama’s campaign announced today that they were able to raise $32 million in January alone, and that they could afford to put up TV ads in 20 of the 22 states voting on Tuesday. The two states left out were Illinois, who are quite familiar with Mr. Obama’s message, and Oklahoma, home to some of the cheapest television airtime rates in the nation. Is the Obama campaign conceding our state’s 38 pledged delegates?
OU president David Boren tried to make Oklahoma relevant by making a plea in late 2007 to any and all candidates to please come and speak at the University. The only candidate on the ballot to personally come to Norman so far has been a retired general named Jerry Curry. Jerry Curry announced his candidacy in Oklahoma because he knows about Oklahoma’s fetish with retired generals running for President. In 2004, Oklahoma was the only primary that retired general Wesley Clark won. Clark dropped out of the race less than a week later. You don’t get momentum from winning Oklahoma.
I completely understand not campaigning in Oklahoma during the general election. It’s a pretty safe bet that the winner of Oklahoma’s 7 electoral votes will be pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax, and especially no way is the winner going to be a black guy or a woman. But primary time is when politicians of both parties should come out pander to you, no matter how many general elections in a row your state has voted for the same party (in Oklahoma’s case, the last Democrat to win the state was LBJ 40 years ago).
But by no means is Oklahoma the only forgotten state. Wyoming had the second caucus in the nation for Republicans, and no press coverage was given at all to it. Even after it occurred, the pundits would say things like, “Now that Huckabee has won Iowa and McCain has won New Hampshire, it’s up to Romney to win his first state, so he’s focused on Michigan.” Now that’s what I call the shaft. Republicans treated Nevada the same way and are currently ignoring Maine’s primary (did you know it’s tomorrow?). So I guess it could be a lot worse, and there are a lot of states in this position, even some larger than us. I haven’t heard much pandering to Minnesotans or Tennessee’ers yet, two other Super Tuesday constituencies.
So I wonder what turnout's going to be like here in Oklahoma, just one state lost in the weeds along with so many other states. And I wonder will win. Judging by the number of yard signs in this college town, the winners will be Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.