My neighbor is a diehard Tea Party guy. He's also got a Mary Fallin bumper sticker on his car and a Mary Fallin sign in his yard.
But wait...doesn't "conventional wisdom" tell us that all Tea Party devotees are Randy Brogdon supporters?
It seems that way. The Associated Press writer Sean Murphy this week wrote that, "Many consider the race a referendum on whether the energy on display at tea party events across the state can translate into voter turnout," and he then quotes an Oklahoma City University "expert" on how, "It's a real measure of the tea party movement as opposed to the mainstream Republican Party."
Well, let me just say: Poppycock.
The learned professor's analysis might be valid if, indeed, Brogdon had the total support of every registered Republican who attended a Tea Party rally in Oklahoma. Clearly, he does not. The professor displays a lack of understanding of organizational politics and the strength of longtime party affiliations that often motivate primary election voters and most often transcend transitional issues.
Ergo, I conclude that the vote next Tuesday will not so much be a measure of Tea Party versus Mainstream Republican voter as Fallin Supporter versus Brogdon Supporter. Duh! And I equally conclude that it appears some political writers would like to make this a Tea Party versus GOP race when it is not. Duh! Duh!!
Fallin, by any and every account, has a sea of GOP supporters eager to cast their ballots for her. Brogdon has a lake of GOP supporters itching to vote for him. There is a huge difference and it has little to do with the Tea Party or its advocates. It does have a lot to do with the perceived political positions of the candidates, their personalities, their records, the time they've spent in the trenches.
Brogdon is perceived as to the right of the mainstream, conservative Republican; some even consider him a radical. Fallin is perceived as a moderately conservative Republican, the place in which most Republicans would place themselves. True, GOP primary voters tend to be more conservative than general election voters, but those primary voters have had ample opportunity in the past to give their opinion of Fallin, and it has been unanimously in her favor.
Fallin is a statewide winner. She's been on the ballot multiple times and has never lost. Brogdon is a district winner. To many out-state Republicans, as hard as it might be for Brogdon and his supporters to believe, he remains an unknown while Fallin is the girl next door.
Fallin appears poised to win the nomination easily over Brogdon next Tuesday and the outcome will have little to do with Tea Party support for either candidate.
*Mike McCarville has been involved in Oklahoma politics since the Republican State Convention was held in a phone booth. He's been a campaign press secretary, organizational director, adviser, manager and consultant in more than 100 campaigns, a few of which were successful. He's lectured on organizational politics and taught candidates the attributes of winning campaigns. He's written about politics for more than 45 years.
Labels: Gadfly's Columns