Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Askins Conundrum: Does She Campaign With Obama's Biggest Oklahoma Backer, Brad Henry?

Democratic nominee for governor Jari Askins faces a conundrum: Does she ask the still-popular Governor Brad Henry to campaign for her even though that reminds voters he was the first Oklahoma Democrat to endorse the now-totally-unpopular Barack Obama for president?
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Campaigning with Henry gives Republican State Chairman Matt Pinnell, and GOP nominee Mary Fallin, wide open lanes of attack on Askins and her disinclination, thus far, to criticize Obama about anything, including his administration's opposition to the Arizona immigration law, and his Obamacare health care plan.

Pinnell began the nationalization of the governor's race 72 hours ago and the newly-elected GOP chief obviously is chomping at the bit to continue tying Askins to Obama.

Askins thus far has remained silent on Pinnell's comments.

While Askins may be debating how to use Henry in her campaign, if at all, in the Fallin campaign the pedal is being put to the metal to bring in Republican firepower and raise as much money as possible. Fallin supporters are convinced Askins will put as much of her personal money into her campaign as she needs. She put $775,000 into her primary and exceeded that sum in her 2006 race for lieutenant governor. Askins' wealth comes from family oil and gas investments and abstract company holdings.

Were it not for Henry's early and ardent endorsement of Obama in the 2008 presidential race, his use in Askins' campaign would be a no-brainer slam dunk, most observers believe.

Henry endorsed Obama after first saying he would not endorse a presidential candidate. He praised Obama at the time as a unifier who would bring Americans together. The opposite has occurred and Obama's favorable rating in Oklahoma is among the nation's lowest at just 27 percent. He lost all 77 counties to GOP nominee John McCain in the 2008 election.

Obama thus far has proven to be a divider; Gallup shows black Americans overwhelming support him while whites and Hispanics are critical. Gallup reports, "Obama's job approval rating averaged 88% among blacks and 38% among whites in July, a 50-percentage-point difference that has been consistent in recent months but is much larger than in the initial months of the Obama presidency. Obama's job approval ratings among blacks, whites, and Hispanics in July are all at their lowest levels to date, although the overwhelming majority of blacks still approve."

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