WHAT’S a popular lame duck to do? Normally he’d position himself for higher office, but Gov. Brad Henry hasn’t moved in that direction. For him, the higher office would be in the U.S. Senate, where he would join other Democrats who enthusiastically embraced Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008.
Therein lies the rub. Henry’s job approval rating is 67 percent, two points higher than U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn. Coburn’s name will be on the 2010 ballot as he seeks a second term. Henry’s name could also be on the ballot but for the fact that Obama’s approval rating in Oklahoma is an abysmal 36 percent. Oklahoma voters seem in no mood to send a Democrat to the Senate and give Obama another vote. This is why no serious opposition has developed against Coburn and — perhaps — why Henry isn’t interested in the job Coburn seems destined to win. Surveys from the Oklahoma Poll, sponsored by the Tulsa World, show Oklahoma’s other Republican U.S. senator, Jim Inhofe, has a 61 percent approval rating. Henry will leave office in a year as one of the most popular Oklahoma politicians ever — presuming something doesn’t happen to change that. Yet despite this popularity, the governor doesn’t seem willing to put it to a test at the ballot box.
Fallin has edgeReplacing Henry will be the prime decision before Oklahoma voters in November. Early polling shows U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin has the edge in most parts of the state. As the first Republican and first female lieutenant governor, Fallin is no stranger to breaking ground. She would be the first woman to occupy the governor’s chair, but another woman — Lt. Gov. Jari Askins — has her eyes on the prize as well. Polls may not mean much this far out, but at this point Fallin is seen as the winner no matter which candidate the Democrats nominate. The front-runner is Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who’s already moving to distance himself from the national Democratic Party — at least when he’s not speaking to activist urban Democrats. Henry has shown that a Democrat can retain popularity here no matter how much Oklahomans dislike the president.
‘Edgy’ ads outIn three weeks, millions of Super Bowl viewers will tune in to watch the ads, with a little football thrown in for good measure. Super Bowl ads are always entertaining and stimulate discussion. Some are edgy, some are controversial. Madison Avenue is, after all, the domain of the Mad Men. Lately, people have been getting mad at the advertisers. This includes a garment manufacturer’s use of President Obama to tout outerwear. The White House cried foul and the image was removed from a Times Square billboard. In Australia, KFC pulled a TV ad that was labeled as racist — despite being far less so than comments made about Obama by fellow Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Green badge of courage?Sen. Jim Inhofe loves getting a rise out of environmental groups and the attention that goes with it — like Rolling Stone’s new article naming him one of the planet’s worst enemies. Inhofe, R-Tulsa, has gotten under a lot of people’s skin contesting the "settled science” of global warming and environmental regulatory efforts that carry a big economic price tag, all from his perch on the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee. Inhofe’s main beef with the article is he thinks he was ranked too low.