Monday, October 25, 2010

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.

Will Obama, 744
Sink Susan Paddack?
An Analysis
By Mike McCarville
You're reading The McCarville Report Online,
Oklahoma's first source of political news

Barresi and Enid radio
host J. Curtis Huckleberry
That was then. Now, 744 appears headed for a resounding rejection. Now, Paddack is locked in a tight battle with political novice Republican Janet Barresi, a question mark when Paddack announced and who has emerged as an outspoken opponent of the question, now shown to be failing by more than 70 percent. And Paddack refuses to take a public position; she tries to deflect questions about it by saying voters should decide it.

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.

THREE ~ The Barresi campaign is better than Paddack's campaign. Barresi herself has turned into a non-stop campaignaholic, logging regular six-days-a-week 16-hour days and thousands of miles criss-crossing every highway and byway to reach voters for the past 16 months. She's described as fearless, wading into possibly hostile audiences not necessarily eager to share her vision of Oklahoma education and she shows no proclivity to pander to an audience's view. Paddack also has worked, but while her campaign may be in drive, Barresi's appears to be in overdrive. Barresi's campaign is highly structured and managed daily by Jennifer Carter, former top assistant to Democratic Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland; Carter has persuasive networking abilities and there are few with a more thorough understanding of the dynamics of modern campaigns. Paddack's campaign is managed by Luke Martin, a respected associate of longtime Democratic operative and lobbyist Pat Hall. Martin has ties to other Democrats, including Governor Brad Henry.


The Latest Public Poll By
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)
Out: $386,000
Cash on Hand: $165,000

In: $595,000 (includes $288,000 Senate fund transfer)
Out: $243,000
Cash on Hand: $346,000

Social Networking
Barresi - 978 Friends
Paddack - 1,199 Friends

Barresi - 305 Followers
Paddack - 180 Followers

Of Consequence (Latest polls)
Barack Obama
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


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