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Oklahoma elections: Democratic outsider challenges Coburn for Senate

Name recognition, association helps perennial candidate take primary, pundits say.
BY JULIE BISBEE Published: August 1, 2010

His main campaign issues are keeping jobs in the United States and supporting local businesses.

"I would not expect this Senate race to be very spirited," said Todd Goodman, chairman of the state Democratic party.

In past campaigns, Rogers hasn't attended forums or debates. Party leaders say their conversations with Rogers have been few and they don't know how to reach him.

"I kept telling people I was running against a ghost," Myles said. "I knew Mr. Rogers wasn't campaigning, but I had to overcome his name recognition."

For his part, Myles admitted he entered the race late and if given more time he could have been a strong candidate against Coburn, who reported $1.8 million on hand going into his race, according to federal election reports.

Myles said he campaigned for six weeks. He raised less than $5,000, according to campaign finance reports.

"I put about 8,000 miles on my car and just ran out of time before I could get to all the places I wanted to get to. I was very well received by the audiences I talked to," Myles said.

State party officials do not support a single candidate in partisan primary elections. They give all candidates equal advice and then support them in the general election, Goodman said. With a popular Republican like Coburn, it's hard to recruit willing candidates and raise enough money when the election seems to be an uphill slog.

While Myles is disappointed, he said the outcome should be a lesson to party officials.

"If it had worked out, if Jim Rogers hadn't filed, I would have been the nominee," Myles said. "But he was the fly in the ointment. It's his right and his prerogative to run, but some of the responsibility falls on the state Democratic party. We have to plan early. We have to understand that Jim Rogers is probably going to file every year that he's alive. We've got to be able to compete against that."


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