“I think they think it's winnable,” Collins said. “They've got their toe in the water and they can't decide whether to jump in or not.”
The party campaign committees can make direct contributions to the candidates within limits and donate money to the state parties for various activities.
Matt Pinnell, chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, said the Republican campaign committee would be “helpful” in the race.
But the biggest investments typically made by the national parties in U.S. House and Senate races are through television ads produced and paid for independently of the campaigns. Neither party has reported producing ads or buying airtime in the 2nd District.
There was speculation that special interest groups and so-called super-PACs (political action committees) might also run television or radio spots, but, with about three weeks left before the election, that hasn't happened.
Wallace said in an interview last week that he wanted the race to stay local.
“I hope they'll let us have this discussion at home,” he said. “I hope we're able to conclude this without the influence of people who don't live here or share our values.”
Mullin and Wallace have not used their own campaign ads so far to draw distinctions on Medicare, taxes, the farm bill and other issues they might face in the next Congress. Instead, both are campaigning against Washington and trying to convince voters that they're just like them.
Wallace has pledged to protect the eastern Oklahoma water used for recreational purposes, saying many in the area make their living from it. Although conflicts over Oklahoma water are currently being fought in federal courts, Wallace said the next congressman must be vigilant over any agency — including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — that might have jurisdiction.
Mullin has been blasting the Obama administration over the Affordable Care Act and regulations that he says are hurting small businesses.
Though the candidates sometimes appear at forums together, there has been only one debate scheduled — a 30-minute faceoff on Oct. 29 at Rogers State University in Claremore.