Istook's Campaign Gets Desperate

Polls Show Henry With Commanding Lead

You know it’s a bad year for the Republicans when even The Daily Oklahoman won’t endorse the GOP candidate for Oklahoma governor.

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The newspaper, one of the most conservative publications in the nation, recently ran an unsigned editorial (“Two good men: Race to set pace for state’s future,” October, 29, 2006) in which it declined to endorse either Democrat Brad Henry or Republican Ernest Istook.

This non-endorsement of Istook is a big slap in the face to his misguided campaign, which has been floundering for months. It also shows that the state’s oppressive, right-wing power structure is either (1) certain Henry will win and is fishing for new corporate tax cuts this coming legislative session or (2) truly believes as many do that Istook’s public theocratic religious agenda would harm the state. Maybe it’s a little of both.

Congressman Istook’s religious agenda includes his infamous Religious Freedom Amendment, which was nothing more that an attempt to break down the wall separating government and religion. If elected governor here, Istook, a Mormon, will surely propose religious legislation or enact executive decrees that would bring religion into state government.

Istook’s election would also be a serious red flag to progressives and liberals in the state. Who would want to live in such a close-minded place with an obvious religious extremist as governor?

Polls show Governor Brad Henry with a commanding lead. Henry, a moderate Democrat, obviously deserves a second term as governor. He has worked to fund public education while cutting taxes. He plays to the pragmatic center. Many people are sick of Istook’s brand of GOP extremism as the Iraq war debacle drags on.

Meanwhile, the Istook campaign is taking the low road with pathetic attack ads and ugly campaign rhetoric. Istook, for example, has criticized Henry for signing a bill allowing a few children of undocumented workers to get in-state college tuition. It seems so petty and senseless. None of the ads have gained any traction.

Istook’s campaign has also suffered because of the country’s low approval of current Republican leadership on the national level. Istook uses the immigration issue to criticize Henry, but he was actually in a position to do something about it and failed to do so. Istook merely draws attention to his failed tenure in the U.S. Congress when he brings up immigration.

Will The Dems Win?

It’s okay to be optimistic that Democrats will capture a majority in the House or Senate, and it’s fine to be optimistic about the Democrats chances here in Oklahoma from governor on down the ticket.

Public opinion shows the country is sick of the Bush administration and the Republican Congress, but does the country still have the democratic tools to force a correction? Republican gerrymandering makes it nearly impossible for Democrats to compete in some congressional districts. In addition, the GOP political machine will undoubtedly employ, as usual, unscrupulous tactics to prevent Democrats from voting in major cities.

Progressives here should realize we’re engaged in struggle against an entrenched right-wing machine that may take many more years to win. What’s important is that we vote this coming Tuesday and stay focused on changing the political landscape no matter what the outcome.