Thursday, October 21, 2010

Looking at the Mail

We got 5 pieces of campaign mail yesterday, by far the highest one-day total of this election season. One of them was for the campaign for Yes on 744, the state question that would increase spending on education by 20% without legislator influence. One was for Rusty Sullivan, a candidate for Cleveland County commissioner. I think he's a Republican, but he has what I think is a very effective ad depicting his bipartisanship. On my list of things to look up on the internet before I vote is exactly what the county commissioners do.

Two pieces of mail were from Emily Virgin (D), candidate for our district in the Oklahoma state house of representatives. She won the primary in July in a 4-person race that, judging by local lawn signs at the time, felt like it should have been closer. But Virgin, a former manager for the OU football team, won more than 50% of the vote and avoided a runoff. She canvassed the neighborhood way before I was even thinking about the election, and so when she rang the doorbell, I couldn't think of anything to ask her. Just last week she came by again to get out the vote for the November election, and I was slightly more prepared. Virgin uses the lesson in her campaign literature of a corporate tax break to a private space aviation company called Rocketplane that quickly went out of business as an example of money spent by the legislature that would be better put to use helping out both k-12 and higher education in the state. I asked her how she would be able to tell ahead of time that any particular corporate tax break would hurt the state more than help the state. She gave an answer indicating that it was the transferable nature of the tax break to Rocketplane that should have been eliminated; that Rocketplane should have been required to deliver the results rather than be allowed to sell the rights to the tax break to another company. She was more articulate that I can reproduce from memory. I don't think she answered my question exactly, but she sounded knowledgeable enough and I was impressed with her grasp of the concept.

One other piece of mail came from Aaron Stiles (R), who is running for a house district on the east side of Norman. My family cannot vote for him, so I don't know why we got this mail. But he is running against a Democrat named Wallace Collins, who has the reputation of being one of the more outspoken Democrats in the state legislature. And it got me thinking about the reframing of the health care law passed by the U.S. congress and signed into law by Barack Obama. It has now so thoroughly been relabeled as "Obamacare" that even "respectable" "blogs" like mine tend to refer to it as Obamacare just for brevity's sake. Stiles claims he has the "backbone to stand up to Washington, D.C. and keep ObamaCare out of Oklahoma," and that Wallace Collins voted against a bill "keeping ObamaCare out of Oklahoma". It's a crazy, twisted world when the candidate for office is labeled as soft on health care when he votes against exempting his state from tougher new federal health care laws.

We have not yet received a single piece of campaign mail from any politician running for governor, U.S. senator, or U.S. representative. Tom Cole, our Republican representative, is running unopposed, so this is no surprise. Tom Coburn, our Republican senator, is running against a homeless-looking man named Jim Rogers, a man who doesn't do any campaigning because it's "not his style", and who is one of those "perennial candidates," a class of individuals for whom no long shot is long enough. Tom Coburn definitely doesn't need to do anything to get the vote out. But we have a nominally competitive race for governor between current lieutenant governor Jari Askins (D) and former lieutenant governor Mary Fallin (R). I'm not as tuned in as I should be to local news, but I'm very tuned into yard signs and campaign mail.

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