Clearly, one of the most important pieces of political journalism we have ever produced was titled: If Oklahoma Capitol insiders were WWE stars.
It paired elected officials with their wrestling doppelgangers and was shared far and wide, even by many of those portrayed within. Over the ensuing weeks, one thing became clear: Capitol insiders wanted more.
They dreamed of seeing their own faces paired with some of the world’s greatest athletic actors. They imagined themselves choke-slamming political opponents, subduing harmful legislation via a sharpshooter. As they dressed each morning before heading to work, they looked in the mirror and imagined themselves with big hair, spandex pants and the attitude of a world champion.
So here we are, back with volume two of this elaborate metaphor, and this time we are focused on 2018 candidates for Oklahoma governor.
Instead of asking who they look like, we have considered each candidate’s potential weaknesses and pondered what WWE superstar each should emulate while seeking the state’s top political post.
As OU superfan and WWE announcer Jim Ross would say, 2018 is gonna be a slobberknocker! (Swipe left to see all 10.)
10Gary Jones should speak like Macho Man Randy Savage
State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones has never met a microphone he didn’t like, and he’s usually got some pretty decent ideas of good things to do and bad people to go after.
But Jones, despite his southwestern Oklahoma twang-drawl, seems to have a hard time getting political heavyweights to take him seriously as a candidate for the executive office. Perhaps it’s his stern demeanor or the nature of his role as auditor, but Jones is rarely seen as the type of firebrand political orator who could really shake up the 2018 governor’s race.
As such, he should channel Macho Man Randy Savage. The above video should provide Jones a few tricks for captivating public attention when speaking on items of policy.
“You know something? Maybe I am insane. Maybe I am insane, and maybe it’s time for you, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, to find out how insane I am. Yeah!!!”
9Connie Johnson should smash an extremist’s truck, like Booker T
Former state Sen. Connie Johnson has centered her campaigns for U.S. Senate and governor around two primary issues: decriminalization of marijuana and abolition of the death penalty.
She has served as co-chairwoman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, and she is well known for bringing up issues related to race both internally at the ODP and statewide when she was a senator from Oklahoma City.
But since she, like Gary Jones, stands as a long-shot to topple better-financed and sharper-tongued opponents, Johnson could use a signature moment of righteous rage to define her campaign.
During her time at the Capitol, Johnson debated with her fair share of good ol’ boys who drive enormous trucks. As a result, she could take a page out of WWE Hall of Famer and Houston mayoral candidate Booker T’s playbook and smash an extremist’s truck with a lead pipe.
The clip above shows how that went down, and one can imagine Johnson doing her damnedest to the windows of an F-350 driven by a member of the House Freedom Caucus. Can you dig it, sucka?
8Gary Richardson should pray he’s as spry as Shawn Michaels
As a septuagenarian, Tulsa attorney and GOP candidate Gary Richardson ain’t as good as he once was. But like the Toby Keith song says, he’s hoping he’s as good once as he ever was.
So far, Richardson’s campaign videos have featured him sitting comfortably on a couch, which is the sort of thing grandpas like to do. It’s also the sort of thing that WWE superstar Shawn Michaels must like to do if his mobility in the video above is any indication. That poor man can barely walk, barely get up off his knees and barely do whatever weird thrusts and air-humps he’s trying to do once he finally reaches the ring.
Still, if the Heartbreak Kid can elicit such wild praise from adoring wrestling fans, the shiny teeth, wavy hair and soothingly raspy voice of a slick-talking attorney can probably charm the votes out of more than a few distinguished ladies.
If he can lift his leg above his waist, perhaps Richardson can deliver some sweet chin music to the Republican candidates he deems responsible for the state’s fiscal problems.
7Scott Inman should value silence, like The Undertaker
The worst-kept secret at 23rd and Lincoln is that House Minority Leader Scott Inman likes to talk, and he’s pretty good at it. He’ll ask questions in committee, he’ll debate on the floor, he’ll talk to reporters so rapidly that they have to play back their recordings at half-speed to transcribe the typically terrific quotes he utters.
Inman is smart enough and wields enough power that he positioned himself as a major broker in the FY-2018 budget battle. That came with some political risks as well as opportunities, but Inman can still choke-slam legislative Republicans with the best of them.
To that end, he may want to embrace The Undertaker’s epic silence from time to time — nodding, listening, earning the trust of people who want to be heard while preparing to bury his opponents alive like a true Lord of Darkness.
While channeling that attitude could be difficult, using silence to express interest, empathy and understanding can be powerful. As WWE CEO Vince McMahon explains in the video above, silence can also be an excellent tool for negotiation.
6Todd Lamb should find some swagger (and back it up) like The Rock
While Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb has been the favorite to win the 2018 gubernatorial election for months, influential people are expressing frustration with the former state senator’s attitude and political positioning.
Lamb infamously bailed from Gov. Mary Fallin’s cabinet this session, saying he could not support her proposed revenue ideas. He declined to offer plans of his own or specify what types of revenue generation he would support as governor. Instead, he has daftly dodged interview requests from outfits like NonDoc, leaving many Capitol insiders wondering what he’s afraid of and whether he has the backbone and confidence to lead the state in troubling times.
To combat that narrative, Lamb should consider channeling The Rock in his campaign. The above clip explains how one of the top personalities in WWE history got his big break, and it involved him speaking directly, sternly and aggressively on issues of (wrestling) importance.
Lamb has the physique and background — college football and U.S. Secret Service — to portray a picture of strength, but it’s his conservative nature with words and interactions that could contrast poorly with the more aggressive rhetoric of Gary Richardson, Gary Jones and any of the Democrats.
So here’s a list of The Rock’s catchphrases. While some are too vulgar for Latimer County bean suppers, the hashtag #BootsToAsses has a Trumpian political tone to it. One catchphrase idea: “Can you smell what Todd Lamb fries?”
5Drew Edmondson should hold nothing back, like Ric Flair
Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has a storied family name, a record of suing misbehaving corporate entities and a supportive team of senior Democrats who still have money.
What he doesn’t have, however, is time to waste. Edmondson lost in the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary, and, after initially saying he was retired from politics, 2018 represents his last hurrah.
Or his last “Woooooo!”
That’s right, Edmondson ought to channel his inner Ric Flair. He has made a career protecting water interests and agricultural regulations, thus making the Nature Boy a fitting nickname.
But Edmondson needs the full moxie of Ric Flair if he’s going to convince a deep-red electorate that he’s a better man for the job than any Joe Republican who comes out of the GOP primary. To do so, he’ll need a variety of moves — including the infamous “low blow” — to stagger his opponents.
Then he’ll need something stronger than a 60-year-old radio jingle to finish them off. Figure-four leg lock, anyone?
4Like Goldust, Joe Exotic should make sexuality a tool
If you’re not familiar with tiger-king, pop-country vocalist and 2016 presidential candidate Joe “Exotic” Maldonado, then get ready for 2018 to shiver your timbers.
Running as a Libertarian, Exotic is passionate in his advocacy of gun ownership and his criticism of animal-rights groups, but his unusual status as Oklahoma’s only gubernatorial candidate simultaneously married to two men gives him a leg up in any three-legged race that rewards the bizarre.
In the 1990s, one of wrestling’s most bizarre stars was the enormous and homoerotic Goldust, a mercurial monster with charmingly provocative swagger.
Joe Exotic possesses similar characteristics, but his stump speech focuses a great deal more on political rage than personal persuasion. If Exotic can carry himself with a bit more measured engagement, he might shatter the dreams of major-party contenders.
3Mick Cornett should learn from Stone Cold Steve Austin’s blue-collar attitude
Mick Cornett may be the wildly popular mayor of Oklahoma City, but running in a statewide GOP primary means he will have to introduce himself to legions of rural Okies.
In doing so, the former newscaster who sometimes sports off-white dress pants may need to don blue jeans, a pair of shit-kickers and the sort of serious facial expressions a man gets working in a field until sundown and cracking beers afterward.
How many beers? One beer, two beers, three beers …
That’s right, Mick Cornett needs to brush up on the antics of Stone Cold Steve Austin a little. In the video above, Austin drives a truck, operates its equipment, humiliates the establishment and celebrates by enjoying a fine American lager. Beer is better than a streetcar, son.
Since Todd Lamb is emulating The Rock, Mick Cornett channeling Austin fits even more. Austin spent much of the mid 2000s in a feud with The Rock while opening cans of “whoop-ass” on anyone and everyone.
Since it’s a long way from the OKC Council horseshoe to stunning jackass neophytes who dabble in serious political business, some Stone Cold attitude could help Cornett get there. He would just need to avoid running afoul of the state’s conservative Christian constituency in the process.
2Kevin Stitt needs to come out of nowhere like Daniel Bryan
For a political novice seeking some sort of defining message that could play to the masses, Tulsa mortgage mogul Kevin Stitt need look no further for inspiration than the populist rise of WWE’s Daniel Bryan.
Bryan essentially chanted “Yes!” to a short-lived title belt and an early concussion-caused retirement. If there’s one thing that a 2018 gubernatorial candidate could rally the public with, it just might be a banal repetition of the word “Yes!”
Enter Stitt, a man like Richardson who is prepared to dump a pile of his own gold coins into the governor’s race. Is Oklahoma ready to elect a guy with impeccably low name-ID who started his business with simply “$1,000 and a computer“?
Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
1Dan Fisher needs to channel Bob Backlund
Who? Yeah, the name Bob Backlund probably flew over your head, too, unless you’re a veritable vault of WWE history.
Then again, maybe the name Dan Fisher did as well.
Fisher is a former Oklahoma House member and Baptist preacher who made headlines for his distrust of AP history courses as indoctrination against America’s exceptionalism.
Backlund, on the other hand, is a two-time WWF champion who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for a Connecticut congressional seat. His shtick can be summarized as the Boy Scout from Hell. In the above clip, Backlund becomes unhinged and begins ranting about how people raise their children.
For more insight on Backlund, consider this from a NonDoc supporter:
He’s a dork, but a fierce one. Apparently it isn’t an act, either. My friend once met him and asked for an autograph. Backlund said he could have it if he did one of two things: He could 1) get up at 6 a.m. with him and go on a 20-mile hike, or 2) recite every single president in order from memory.
If that’s not the sort of guy who can pull 4 percent in a GOP primary, who is?