Oklahoma politicos have been beside themselves trying to analyze how and why the special election for State Senate District 34 was won by Democrat J.J. Dossett last week.
By voter registration and general political profile, Republican David McLain seemed to have an advantage in a state where Republicans controlled 40 of the 48 Senate seats before District 34’s Rick Brinkley resigned over an embezzlement scandal.
Longtime political commentator Mike McCarville wrote of Republican “back-biting” two days after the Tuesday election:
McLain’s campaign, managed by Samantha Jones and TC Ryan of Atlas Consulting, never seemed to get its wings, observers said. McLain apparently did little door-to-door campaigning and declined to return calls from the news media, including the Tulsa World and TMR.
The balance of McCarville’s post is also worth a read (as it shows amusing political bickering), but the above paragraph struck us at NonDoc. Mr. McLain’s campaign also declined to return phone calls or written messages from us.
A full week before the District 34 vote, we began trying to reach both candidates’ campaigns with a proposal that they answer four basic questions each. The only difference in the questions centered around reference to Dossett as a teacher and McLain as a pastor and what each had learned in those positions that might be useful in the Legislature. (We imagined the candidates might make jokes about bratty children and tithing.)
Dossett’s campaign said they were willing to answer the questions by our deadline, though they said it would be tough because they were finishing their last mail pieces and knocking doors on a daily basis. They asked whether we would run their answers if Mr. McLain did not agree to participate, and we said we would make a determination after speaking to the McLain campaign.
Alas, we were never able to reach McLain or his staffers, despite sending his campaign Facebook page messages and obtaining his cell phone. We made several calls and left multiple messages. With no response coming, we began asking Republican legislators, lobbyists and political hands whether they could help us reach McLain. Everyone we asked said they had heard McLain did not play well with others. Internet searches revealed, as McCarville reported, that we were not the only media outlet being dodged by McLain.
Still, we figured McLain might well win, and in the end we told Dossett’s campaign not to bother finishing its answers to our questions because we did not want to risk looking like a publication supporting the Democrat, especially because we take fair and public political coverage to be extremely important. (We plan a great deal more of it in the future.)
In the end, Dossett surprised many by winning on election night, and people in media who tried with no avail to reach McLain during the campaign likely (quietly) rejoiced that a wannabe-politician who doesn’t believe candidates should stand proudly before the public and answer reasonable policy questions got dominated at the ballot box.
So here’s a tip for anyone thinking of campaigning for office in the future: Don’t be afraid of the press. Media are responsible to and extensions of the public that politicians seek to represent.
If you dodge media requests, you run the risk of looking ridiculous and, of course, losing.
For whatever a candidate might sow, that also he will reap.
Things we saw (and heard)
Vermin Supreme leading Rand Paul — The Washington Free Beacon
John Bel Edwards signs Medicaid expansion to make 300,000 people eligible for federal program — New Orleans Times-Picayune
Al Jazeera America terminates all TV and digital operations — TheIntercept.com
Callused hands: The shrinking working class white vote — Huffington Post
Inola School District lays off workers and dims lights to save money — KTUL News
Quotes to note
This dispels the rumor that Sen. Brecheen took a Constitutional Law class during the interim.
— ACLU director Ryan Kiesel in a statement to The Lost Ogle about a bill filed in opposition of same-sex marriage in Oklahoma,
The boys began tackling, kicking and punching in the clenches. They ended up in a free-for-all in the middle of the gym floor. Before I could pull them apart, one boy was knocked out, several of them had black eyes, and one had a dislocated shoulder. It certainly was murder.
— James Naismith recalling his first game of basketball in a radio interview available at KU Libraries, 1939
Sweetheart, I’d like us to liquidate our entire net worth, liquid net worth, and put it into the campaign,
— Presidential candidate Ted Cruz explaining to the New York Times what he told his wife before his U.S. Senate campaign, 1/13/15
We’ve dealt with predatory pricing for 40 years. In the future, we won’t have to. The Saudis played their hand. It’s the last hand they’ve got. It’s over.
— Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm to Bloomberg about oil prices and new U.S. crude exports, 1/13/15
Highlights from NonDoc
“Evander Holyfield at OKC school: ‘Everyone who is successful has a support group’” by Danny Marroquin
“Supplements lack oversight and can pose health risks” by Dr. Ashiq Zaman