Tuesday, September 21, 2010

There's Nothing Nice About This Governor's Race

There's nothing nice about the 2010 governor's race.

From third-party attack ads to blogger assaults using desultory language to web sites devoted exclusively to the political destruction of their targets, the historic Jari Askins-Mary Fallin race has turned into a nasty affair and likely will rival any governor's race in history for the amount of mud being thrown in private, if not in public.

Fallin Fail is an anonymously-written site aimed obviously at Fallin.

LiberalJari.com is a Republican Governors Association site aimed at Askins.

And across the Oklahoma blogosphere, there are liberals and a few Republicans attacking Fallin and conservatives and a few Democrats attacking Askins.

Are they still laughing together? (Photo courtesy The Oklahoman)

The public face of the race includes a few television attack commercials aimed at Askins for the most part, paid for by the Republican Governors Association.

They are tame compared to the vitriol being spewed on Internet sites, places where political junkies dwell but the average voter never sees.  

"Junkfood Jari" and "Mattress Mary" are just two of the epithets used to describe the candidates by their detractors. Fallin is described as a "dim bulb" with limited intellectual capacity (this, for a woman who has never lost an election and already is among the state's most successful politicians, male or female). Askins is described in the rudest of personal terms, some comparing her to farm animals. There are far worse descriptions we'll not repeat here.

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There are restrained, critical postings about both, not many as analytical as this one, from the anonymously-written blog TTP: "The Democrats have already started their attack campaign! They have sent out press releases calling her (Fallin) a 'Stimulus Hypocrite'. They have sent out emails, and tweets, complaining that she’s not in DC for critical votes, and then have attacked her for getting involved in trying to persuade people in other states to campaign against Obamacare, instead of focusing on Oklahoma’s issue. I have it on good authority, that if Mary Fallin wins the GOP nomination, this is going to be the tactic they use against her. If she stays in Congress, they will say she doesn’t 'care enough about Oklahoma.' If she resigns, they will attack her for not being 'dedicated enough to finish the job she was elected to do.' And, they will pound her on voting 'NO' on the Stimulus, but then earmarking monies from the Stimulus, and bragging about how good it has been for Oklahoma."

The Oklahoma Democratic Party has a website that sticks pretty much to issues in its criticisms of Fallin. 

An ethically-challenged Democratic forum draws posters who describe Fallin as a "wacko" and worse. Some writers here are critical of Askins for being too conservative but special scorn is reserved for Fallin and Republicans. (An administrator of this forum accused Fallin of placing an Askins attack ad on a page on which the obituary of a longtime Democratic volunteer and former office-holder was printed. This irrational accusation came despite the fact the ad wasn't even placed by the Fallin campaign, but by the Republican Governors Association, and was a small ad that appeared on several pages throughout the newspaper.)

Some of the attacks are rooted in issues, but take the criticism beyond simple commentary.

Fallin has been publicly scorned, being named Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" on his MSNBC show. "Why did she earn this sad mark?" a writer asked. "Well, it seems Mary Fallin sent out a mailer bashing spending of taxpayer dollars - and she printed and mailed it at taxpayer expense."

There are indications the race is about to get even nastier, this time in public. As The McCarville Report Online reported Monday, a trio of Democrats is gathering information they apparently plan to use in a frontal attack on Fallin and the controversial RGA commercials. The Democrats plan to try to link Fallin's Washington consultant and pollster, Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group, to the RGA commercials; that would be a violation of the law. Goeas denies any connection, as does the Fallin campaign. Whether the Democrats are providing information to Askins' opponent research specialist Doug Fulmer in Atlanta, Georgia, is not known.

Askins' consultant Don Hoover is an acknowledged master of the negative commercial but thus far, the Askins campaign has not attacked Fallin. Most observers expect that to change soon if polls continue to show Askins trailing Fallin.

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