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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Upset in Oklahoma

It’s not going to get much national attention, but there was one notable surprise in yesterday’s Oklahoma primary: Lt. Gov. Jari Askins narrowly defeated Attorney General Drew Edmondson for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
It appears Askins won by winning big in her southwest Oklahoma base, overcoming Edmondson’s big lead in the Tulsa area. She also ran virtually even with the Muscogee native in southeast Oklahoma’s Little Dixie area.
This wasn’t an outcome with big ideological implications, best as I can tell; both candidates fit the state’s longstanding tradition of moderate-to-conservative Democrats (like term-limited incumbent Brad Henry) doing well. It was notable that Edmondson conceded even before AP called the race for his opponent; this accords with the unusually civil tone of the primary.
Askins’ win does set up an all-female general election contest with Rep. Mary Fallin, who didn’t exactly light up the boards in putting away Tea Party favorite Randy Brodgon 55-39. Fallin enjoyed a 4-1 financial advantage, along with endorsements from a constellation of conservative national figures, including Sarah Palin (who gets another “Mama Grizzly” win on her primary record), Jeb Bush, Tim Pawlenty and Jan Brewer. Fallin’s election-night victory statement showed which way the wind was blowing in the GOP these days; it was full of right-wing rhetoric about protecting the Constitution from the evil designs of the federal government, and could have been delivered in, say, 1959.
The latest general election polling shows Fallin with a spare 46-40 lead over Askins. It’s also an encouraging sign that Democratic turnout in the gubernatorial primary exceeded Republican turnout (yes, this is a closed primary state with Democrats holding a registration advantage, but it wouldn’t have been surprising to see GOP turnout running higher given the national political mood and the fireworks associated with Brodgon’s attacks on Fallin).
In the other nationally-significant Democratic primary in Oklahoma, Blue Dog congressman Dan Boren demolished underfunded progressive challenger Jim Wilson by a 3-1 margin, and will face the winner of a runoff between two obscure Republican challengers who will be looking for national GOP backing.

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