Several Republicans are in the race to replace the only Democrat in Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Dan Boren. Last June’s announcement that he would depart the second district seat that stretches from the Kansas border to the Red River set off a stream of campaign announcements – by Republicans and Democrats.
While the early Democratic hopefuls decided against the race, eventually a pair of Democrats emerged to join the crowded Republican field. Entry into the Democratic race of a former local and federal prosecutor, contesting the candidacy of a businessman, assured the party of Jefferson will have its own nomination contest.
It now seems certain there will be a general election one year from this week, rather than the easy Republican gain some observers anticipated after two heavyweight Democrats – former Rep. Brad Carson and former state Sen. Ken Corn – decided against the race.
As for Republicans, state Rep. George Faught of Muskogee is touting his conservative bona fides based on his voting record, and last week’s Eagle Award presented by national conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly.
In comments sent to CapitolBeatOK after the Oklahoma Eagle Forum banquet, Faught praised the group, saying, “The tireless efforts of people like Phyllis and state president Bunny Chambers have paved the way for us to advance conservative values today.”
While the group clearly liked Faught’s overall record, they particularly praised him for efforts to ban embryonic stem cell research in Oklahoma. Faught has pressed bills favoring Voter ID strictures, English Only provisions and opposition to illegal immigration.
Faught has operated a carpet cleaning business, and lives in Muskogee.
Also running is former state Rep. Wayne Pettigrew. Although he represented an Edmond district from1994 to 2004, Pettigrew is a McAlester native. He is an insurance broker.
Pettigrew formed an exploratory committee in September, then formally entered the race last month. He was recently endorsed by Ottawa County Republican Chairman Jay Calan, and in September celebrated the endorsements of Steve and Tinker Owens, Miami natives who are fondly remembered for college and professional football exploits.
Stressing his business credentials, Pettigrew said in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, “Our new course must be rooted in balancing the federal budget while preserving the core functions of government.” Pettigrew’s consultant is former House Speaker Lance Cargill.
Another veteran conservative Republican political guru, Neva Hill, is pressing the candidacy of Dustin Rowe of Tishimingo.
Taking critical note of the 186 new state laws that entered Oklahoma’s statute books yesterday (Tuesday, November 1), Rowe said that if he goes to Congress, “I won’t see how many new laws I can pass, I’ll see how many unnecessary laws I can stop and how many burdensome regulations I can dismantle."
In comments sent to CapitolBeatOK, Rowe was critical of some of the new laws and the direction the country is taking under President Barack Obama.
Markwayne Mullin of Westville will be helped by another GOP consultant, former state Rep. Trebor Worthen. Mullin began raising money back in the summer and had a notable cluster of earlier donors. The owner of a plumbing service company and a rancher in Adair and Wagoner counties, Mullin said in comments sent to CapitolBeatOK:
“I’ve been sharing my heart with people, that I believe our country will fail if we don’t stop the spending excesses. Thankfully I’ve been blessed in business, but if America can’t reverse course, the entrepreneurial spirit that defines us will come to a screeching halt. My supporters feel the same way and are enthusiastic and determined. I’m continuing to meet with friends and make new friends throughout the district, and I am very blessed to add support each day.”
Dakota Wood of Claremore, a Marine Corps veteran and Naval Academy graduate, is also an announced candidate. Another name floated in the race is a Fort Gibson preacher named Dewayne Thompson.
Hopes for Democrats to keep the seat seemed dashed last summer when Carson and Corn each entered the race, then backed away within a few weeks.
Now, however, many party activists are enthusiastic for one of the pair of announced hopefuls for the nomination.
Rob Wallace, a former District Attorney in Latimer and LeFlore Counties spent seven years as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
Wallace entered the contest early last month, and told reporters, “The fighting that’s going on in Washington is killing jobs right here in Oklahoma. We need somebody with a strong voice. We need to stop fighting and start constructively engaging to create public policy that will result in job creation.”
Gaining some favorable mention mention in local news stories is Collinsville seed company owner Wayne Herriman, who said in September he would seek the Democratic nod.
Rep. Boren crafted an independent course in Congress, voting often with Republicans and fashioning a moderately conservative voting record. Despite the Republican “tsunami” of 2010, Boren won comfortable reelection with 57 percent support.
The seat, held for six years by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn during his first sojourn in Washington, was subsequently held for a few terms by Republican Wes Watkins, who had once represented it as a Democrat.
In 2008, the district went 2-1 in favor of Republican presidential nominee John McCain.