Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oklahoma's 2nd District Likely National Battleground After Boren Decision

With the surprise announcement by Democratic Congressman Dan Boren that he won't seek reelection, the race for the 2nd District seat has gone from "likely Democrat" to "tossup" and Republicans are salivating over the prospect of once again claiming the seat.

By Mike McCarville

Republican Tom Coburn held it before voluntarily relinquishing it. Boren subsequently cruised to victory and has won handily ever since. However, his 65+ percent wins in recent races was trimmed to 57 percent last year in the anti-Obama landslide.

Boren's decision likely means the seat will be national target for both parties and it promises to spice up the 2012 election cycle.

Boren's announcement was barely out of his mouth when possible candidates began surfacing.

Democrat Brad Carson, Obama's Oklahoma campaign chief and a former congressman now a Claremore attorney, indicates he's in, but has considerable political baggage.

Democrat Kenneth Corn, his party's unsuccessful nominee for lieutenant governor last year, most likely is in; the initial "read" is that he's the most likely party nominee.

Republican George Faught of Muskogee, member of the Oklahoma House, is forming an exploratory committee. He'll be a formidable GOP candidate.

Republican State Chairman Matt Pinnell indicates the party will put considerable resources into the campaign of the party nominee.

In 2010, the National Republican Congressional Committee had the conservative Boren on its early target list and promised a vigorous effort to knock him off; that effort never materialized.

Given the district's history of electing Republican Coburn followed by Democrat Boren, it's clear the district's voters pick the man and not necessarily the party. The district's heavy Democrat voter registration advantage thus is not the factor it was in the long tenure of Democratic Congressman Ed Edmondson.

The bottom line is that the race for the 2nd District seat, just 24 hours ago perceived as a ho-hummer with another Boren win, now promises to be the hottest, and most closely-watched, race of the 2012 election year.

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