Tom Guild, the Democratic nominee in Oklahoma’s Fifth Congressional District, faces an uphill battle against the well-funded Republican incumbent. In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Guild reflected, “The latest poll I saw nationwide showed that Congress’ approval rating now is about 13 percent. It’s a wonder that it’s in double digits, the way they have been behaving.
“First of all, they seem to not “get it” – that public education is essential to our democracy. It’s essential to our economy.
“Just as an example, the Republicans are playing games with a law that would extend the 3.4 percent interest rate for college student loans instead of letting it rise to 6.8 percent. When you think about how far we are behind in competing in the world economy with a lot of other countries, we need a lot more, a much higher percentage of college graduates, so that they can go on to the high-paying careers, and have good jobs, and fulfilling jobs.
“If you add to the college debt, I’ve seen some statistics that say that the average for debt carried by college graduates in the United States is around $30,000. If you start out your working life with a $30,000 debt, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that we’re falling behind in the world economy.”
As for jobs, Guild is a proud progressive who backs President Barack Obama’s economic agenda. He said the chief executive, “put forth the American Jobs Act, and it had some really good ideas. First of all, for some infrastructure repairs. You don’t have to go but a mile or two on Oklahoma streets and highways, or over or undermeath bridges here in Oklahoma, to know that we desperately need to take care of our infrastructure.
“We have crumbling schools, roofs that week, equipment that is faulty, and we have all kinds of things that we need to take care of here domestically. Those would create a lot of jobs.
“Also, we need to hire back a lot of our first responders – firefighters and policemen that have lost their jobs in the economic hard times that we’ve just gone through. And, we need to hire back teachers.
“One of the things, I can tell you from experience – teaching in the classroom for 30 years – is that whatever anyone says I can tell you for sure, you have a lot more time and can have a lot more time and be more effective in teaching if you have small, manageable class sizes of 25 rather than 40, 45, 50 or 60.”
Guild has long been critical of the role of large political contributions in American campaigns. He told CapitolBeatOK:
“The big money in politics has been swallowing up our democracy. The “Citizens United” case made it even worse. Now we have the unregulated Super PACS. A lot of times, depending on the type of ad they run, they don’t even have to identify their donors. Or, they identify their donors so late that it can’t impact on the vote.
“We’re going to run a campaign against an incumbent that will have a million dollars to spend. We’ll probably have a hundred to $250,000 if everything goes just right. So, we will be outspent 10-1 or 4-1 or something along those lines. Probably, closer to at least 4-1.”
The University of Central Oklahoma professor emeritus continued, “People should not be able to buy an office. Political action committees that fund candidates shouldn’t be able to buy a candidate, or a congressman, or a president or a state representative.
“Really, that is demeaning and disabling to our democracy. I am truly worried that … some time in the near future, we make wake up and find there is no democracy left.”
Guild concluded the interview, conducted at his campaign office along Interstate-44 on Oklahoma City’s near-northwest side, with what he called the “Reader’s Digest” version of his campaign priorities.
Top issues, he said, include, “Social security, which my opponent wants to privatize. That would destroy the system. It would take the revenue stream away.
“He has voted twice in 2011 and 2012 for the Ryan budget, which would kill Medicare and replace it with a voucher. That would basically destroy Medicare and take us back to the days where about 30 percent of our elderly are in poverty.
“Also, campaign finance reform is desperately needed. We at least, at the very least, we need full disclosure immediately of all donors to all candidates and to all PACs.”
Guild seems an underdog in the district that anchors politics in what has been called “the reddest of the red states.” He is running a straight-forward issues campaign based around contemporary Democratic party themes, giving central Oklahoma votes a clear choice against the conservative Republican incumbent.