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Hellhound of Abortion

(Editor’s NoteAhead of Oklahoma’s June 28 primary, our #HotRace miniseries continues with a review of candidates for Senate District 33 in Broken Arrow and Tulsa.)

Fancied around the conservative blogosphere as “the hellhound of abortion,” Oklahoma Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) is defending his seat this year against four challengers: two Republicans and two Democrats.

But District 33 nearly wasn’t Dahm’s to defend, as he placed second in the 2012 Republican primary with 2,284 votes, 126 behind Christian-school-founder Tim Wright.

Wright had not won a majority, however, and Dahm ultimately prevailed in the runoff. He pulled five more votes than he had in the primary, while Wright got 500 fewer. That propelled Dahm, a former dean of students at a Romanian Bible college, into his first term of elected office.

Since, the senator has made headlines for filing controversial gun bills and an anti-abortion measure too extreme to withstand a veto from pro-life Gov. Mary Fallin.

Amid Dahm’s latest legislative bluster, a blogger in Oregon glowingly called Dahm “the hellhound of abortion” in a piece that was posted on numerous other sites.

So on Tuesday, packing a new firebrand mantra, a few national TV appearances and a fundraising lead (see below), the incumbent Dahm will stand his ground in his first re-election primary. He appears well positioned with more than 3,000 Facebook followers.

But owing to the controversial senator’s thin margin of victory in 2012, Dahm’s Senate District 33 challengers are worth examining.

Larry Curtis, certified floodplain manager

While Dahm has raised and reported about $32,400 thus far, one of his GOP challengers has brought in $19,200.

That challenger is Larry Curtis (Facebook / Twitter), who also serves as planning commission director for Rogers County, which is SD 33 adjacent but not in it.

“Senators are elected to represent their district, not dictate an agenda,” reads a quote (presumably from Curtis?) at the bottom of his website.

Is that a subtle jab at Dahm’s anti-abortion advocacy and gun proposals? Who knows? He could probably argue it’s a barb aimed through a time-machine to criticize pre-President Barack Obama.

The opening line of Curtis’ issues page notes that “there is no greater priority than education.” Since #oklaed is this political season’s hottest sundress, Curtis is likely trying to draw contrast between himself and Dahm, whose tenure has overseen shrinking education appropriations to public schools and universities.

Curtis doesn’t have any videos on YouTube, but this candidate gathering by the Bixby Chamber of Commerce offers a glimpse into what kind of speech he might give on the Senate floor. The Muskogee native talks a lot like a city planner, if you like that sort of thing.

Patrick Pershing, sunglasses salesman

Dahm’s other GOP challenger is Solaray service representative Patrick Pershing, who apparently hasn’t filed a primary report with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. (D’oh?)

Pershing’s “news” section of his website is also empty, and his Facebook page has 30 followers. Since Pershing doesn’t have any news to announce and can’t get his report filed with the OEC, it’s probably time to move on to other candidates. It just wouldn’t be right to point out the unfortunate typo in Pershing’s May 3 Facebook post that reads, “Me must challenge the status quo of ‘this is just how we do things around here’. We can do better District 33.”

Me agree.

Randal Burris, doctor of animals

On the Democratic side, Broken Arrow veterinarian Randal Burris has 241 Facebook likes and, in the middle of that same Bixby Chamber of Commerce video, he tells a moderately amusing anecdote about literal and figurative bullshit. Without question, that gives Burris the requisite proclivity for country witticisms required to be a member of the Oklahoma State Senate’s minority caucus.

To his credit, Burris’ website lists his liberal bona fides — supporting Medicaid expansion and opposing school vouchers — front and center, even though he’s running in a largely conservative district. He has only raised about $2,600.

As a doctor of animals, Burris seems likely to have a sharp mind. Outgoing Oklahoma Rep. Lee Denney (R-Cushing) is also a veterinarian, and she was quite effective, thoughtful and respected over her 12 years at the Capitol.

It makes sense why.

People who can conduct necropsies or express canine anal glands can surely keep their faculties at all times, even waist-deep in pork and forced to make sausages.

Kimberly Fobbs, brisket baroness

A former member of the Judicial Nominating Commission, Kimberly Fobbs ran for House District 80 in 2006 but did not win.

She and her husband, former TU basketball player Anthony Fobbs, run Big Anthony’s BBQ, which sells a platter called the “3 on 3 Hurricane basket,” featuring brisket, ribs, hot links and your choice of three sides for $14.99 in case your goal in life is to die from a barbecue overdose.

Fobbs’s platform is listed online as “Families, Freedom, Fairness,” which is oddly close to Mary Fallin’s old slogan, “Faith, Family, Freedom.”

Fobbs has raised about $1,300 while loaning her campaign an additional $3,562. She has a mere 77 Facebook likes but has gone after Dahm in a more direct fashion than any of the other District 33 candidates on Facebook.

On June 14, she posted pictures of Dahm palm cards and questioned why the senator’s materials fail to mention education, health care or the state budget in his list of how he’s “working to protect Oklahomans.”

Tulsa-area politicos looking to hop between primary-watch parties after voting ends Tuesday should probably keep an eye out for a Fobbs shindig.

At the very least, the catering should be on point.