Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Republicans Eye Brecheen Challenge Of Gumm

From afar, it would seem a Don Quixote-like exercise: A Republican seeking to oust an entrenched Democrat in a Senate district where once Republicans could have held a meeting in a one-horse stall.

And while it's still considered a long shot, the campaign of Republican Josh Brecheen (left, with wife Kacie) of Coalgate to unseat veteran Democrat Jay Paul Gumm in Little Dixie's Senate District 6 seems to have some air in its sails.

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Tonight, for example, the most popular politician in Oklahoma, the GOP's Senator Tom Coburn, rolls into Durant for a Brecheen fundraiser that's already attracted lots of interest, and lots of conversation. It's no surprise that Coburn would help Brecheen; Brecheen worked for Coburn for six years as a field representative.

What is a surprise and topping the conversation among insiders today is word that Brecheen actually bested Gumm in fundraising in the past month; that alone would make speculation about the race a hot topic. But it is in the examination of the donations that Republicans find excitement about their man.
From The Sooner Survey
"On the legislative generic (ballot) we see remarkable Republican unity (72% voting for an unnamed Republican vs. 6% voting for the unnamed Democrat) while registered Democrats are split (26% voting Republican vs. 40% voting Democrat) and the critical bloc of conservative Democrats breaking decidedly Republican (41% voting Republican vs. 21% voting Democrat). This advantage for Republicans is statewide. Currently, a generic Republican has an advantage in the traditionally Democrat area of the southeast (38% Republican vs. 26% Democrat). In fact, in those seats currently held by a Democrat State Representative, an unnamed Republican starts with a 3-point advantage over an unnamed Democrat (36% Republican vs. 33% Democrat)."
Gumm, his Ethics Commission report shows, raised $15,150 from 13 donors in the past month.

Meanwhile, Brecheen in the same time period raised $21,487 from 64 individual donors, 63 of them from within the district. He also received $6,400 in in-kind contributions from people providing food for events and $500 from the Farmers Employee & Agent PAC, for a total of $28,409; that's almost double the sum the veteran Gumm raised.

This, his backers say, is evidence Brecheen has the momentum in this race and could be poised to stage a stunning upset of an entrenched Democrat who four years ago enjoyed winning without opponents.

In the overall, however, Gumm has a decided fundraising advantage; he's raised $162,115 compared to about $42,000 for Brecheen.

Brecheen, father of two, is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and has 10 years experience operating a motivational speaking business, Brecheen Keynotes and Seminars. He's a former State FFA President (1998-99) and State FFA Southeast District Vice President (1997-98). He's been active in training cutting horses and operates a quarter horse breeding and training program.

Gumm, elected to the Senate in 2002, won reelection in 2006 without opposition. During his Senate tenure, Gumm and wife Deena apparently have become wealthy property owners in the district, purchasing at least nine properties valued at $293,500 in 2008 alone, records show.

A realtor, Gumm represents all of Bryan, Johnston and Marshall counties and parts of Atoka and Coal counties.

While Brecheen's backers are hopeful he can pull the upset, they know the biggest obstacle he may face is voter registration; in the counties that comprise the district, Democrats dominate by margins of 4- or 5-to-1.

Despite that fact, GOP leaders are focused on the race. Senator Brian Bingman of Sapulpa, co-chairman of the Republican Senate Committee, told The McCarville Report Online, "Josh Brecheen is the type of candidate that doesn't come around very often. His rural profile and ag background make him a terrific candidate, and he greatly improves our chances there in southestern Oklahoma."

Jarred Brejcha, executive director of the Senate group, said, "I just want to add also that his momentum is building as seen in the ethics reports and through his efforts in campaigning that cannot yet be measured. His individual contributions are very impressive. People are buying into his campaign and message in incredible numbers. Whether it's five dollars or five-hundred dollars, the vast majority of contributions to Josh Brecheen's campaign come from within Senate District 6. One of the ways Josh is getting his message out is through small group meetings at breakfast or supper, which have been so successful that they are sometimes not very small. His endorsement and fundraising help from Senator Coburn will no doubt infuse extra energy into a campaign that is already full of excitement. Simply put, we are just incredibly excited about Josh and his race."

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