In 1970, gonzo author Hunter Thompson ran for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado, on the Freak Power ticket. Thompson’s platform included ripping up Aspen streets with a jackhammer, changing the town’s name to “Fat City” and placing dishonest drug dealers in stocks because “no drug worth taking should be sold for money.”
In a Rolling Stone article called Freak Power in the Rockies, Thompson summarized his reasons for running thusly:
Why not run an honest freak and turn him loose, on their turf, to show up all the normal candidates for the worthless losers they are and always have been?
Fast forward 46 years, and such thinking looks not only relevant but conceivably appealing in regard to the current nauseating race for Oklahoma County Sheriff between embroiled incumbent John Whetsel (D) and bumbling challenger Rep. Mike Christian (R).
Meet the candidates
If you haven’t been paying attention — and who could really blame you — Whetsel is seeking a sixth term as sheriff despite mounting evidence that he has operated the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office and the Oklahoma County Jail with the competence of a deceitful third-grader in a pediatrician’s play area.
An audit of the two entities released this month could quite possibly draw criminal charges from Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, who requested it in the first place. Among other concerning findings in the audit, Whetsel avoided paying certain county obligations while instead buying new patrol cars. His own “donation” of a personal car to the office looks as crooked as a dog’s back leg.
Challenging the former Choctaw police chief is former state trooper, current Republican state representative and grinning frat boy Mike Christian, a man who was disciplined for bringing beer to Oklahoma Highway Patrol cadets and was controversially awarded worker’s compensation benefits after he was “knocked goofy” in a car accident while “on duty” as a legislator driving to the State Capitol.
When we wrote in March asking who would run against Whetsel, we couldn’t have imagined that Mike Christian would be the only answer — a man who avoided prosecution in a scheme to bribe a sitting legislator to vacate her state senate seat for him only because it’s always conceivable that he has no clue what’s going on around him. (He had been knocked goofy by then, remember?)
Easy victory? Think again
With Whetsel on the ropes and nearly a dozen people dying in the jail he oversees this year, Christian would seem headed toward an easy victory in this race — if he could just get out of his own way. (Think Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump, but on a local level and with worse haircuts.)
Okla. County Sheriff debate: ‘Who the hell does he think he is? Wyatt Earp?’ by William W. Savage III
Unfortunately for the south-OKC Republican, the Nov. 8 election for county sheriff still may be a toss up.
The Oklahoman endorsed Whetsel on Friday, one day after Nolan Clay reported that Christian’s campaign had faked the endorsements of U.S. Sen. James Lankford, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole and U.S. Rep. Steve Russell on a mail piece. (The flier says the three men would be voting for Christian even though Cole lives in a different county.)
Christian has promised to release “a detailed plan to fix the jail” this Tuesday on his website, www.MikeChristian4Sheriff.com, which doesn’t even appear on the first page of Google results when one searches “Mike Christian for Sheriff.” Here’s hoping that fixing the jail is less complicated than installing an SEO plugin.
The Big League Fat City
Most sarcasm aside, the final week of this Oklahoma County Sheriff campaign should make for interesting political theater. What will Christian’s long-awaited jail plan hold? Will Prater file charges against the incumbent? Will Whetsel luck out and personally capture some sort of high-profile criminal at the Choctaw Taco Bell?
Here in the Big League Fat City, voters are waiting with beer breath and rolling eyes as these two political dung beetles duke it out for the right to be called King Turd of Shit Mountain.
If only Hunter Thompson had been around to put his name on this ballot, the fight for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office could be even more amusing. Had Thompson repeated his 1970 feat of shaving his head so as to refer to “my long-haired opponents,” he just might have cobbled together enough of the Freak and Power voting blocs to win the right to screw up the jail further.
Lord, help us all.