When Democratic Senator Susan Paddack announced her candidacy for superintendent of schools (confirming an open secret), there was general jubilation among Democrats. Known for her involvement in education issues and with her contacts among party workers and potential donors, she was seen as likely to win election in November.
With her education labor union, the Oklahoma Education Association, and its allies pushing State Question 744 and Paddack expected to support it, it seemed she had all the political dominoes toppling her way. A poll showed the question with more than 70 percent approval.
|Barresi and Enid radio|
host J. Curtis Huckleberry
Then, it was Advantage Paddack. Today, it is Advantage Barresi and the proof is evidenced by Paddack's television commercial (worst of the year in my opinion) attacking Barresi as one who has practiced class warfare, alleging she used "elite" tactics to select charter school students. A front-runner doesn't attack; that Paddack is attacking sends the clear message she believes her campaign is in trouble.
When Paddack announced, her education credentials made it obvious her connection to the education lobby had been intense. She had served on the Education Commission of the States and for nine years headed the Oklahoma Foundation For Excellence's Local Education Foundation Outreach program.
So how, and why, has the picture changed?
While most observers still expect a close race, Barresi is perceived as having the edge, a perception solidified by Paddack's continued commercial assault on Barresi and the most recent reliable poll.
Three reasons appear likely to explain the change.
ONE ~ He's not on the ballot, but Barack Obama's unpopularity in Oklahoma is a huge drag on the entire Democratic ticket. From the U. S. Senate to local offices, dislike of Obama and his policies appears to portend significant GOP victories. If conservative Democrats are indeed so angry and disgusted at Obama they take it out on party candidates in November and split their tickets, Paddack is a likely victim.
TWO ~ State Question 744 is now a drag on Paddack as well. While public opinion has shifted dramatically, she's stuck with the perception she's for it and she can't wiggle out of that no matter how many times she tries to duck an answer. And ducking the answer appears not to be serving her well among 744 advocates, who continue to pour money into a media advertising campaign. It's also prompted some ridicule from GOP insiders, who say her thighs are scratched from trying to straddle that barbed-wire fence.
The Latest Public Poll By SoonerPoll.com
Janet Barresi (R) 35.2 percent
Susan Paddack (D) 31.5 percent
Undecided 26.1 percent
(Poll taken October 3-7)
Finance Through August 9th
In: $554,000 (includes $275,000 personal loan)
Cash on Hand: $165,000
In: $595,000 (includes $288,000 Senate fund transfer)
Of Consequence (Latest polls)
Approve - 27 percent
Disapprove - 69 percent
Don't Know - 4 percent
(Tulsa World Oklahoma Poll)
Support - 27.6 percent
Oppose - 58 percent
Don't Know - 14.5 percent