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Republicans chasing relatively few votes in eastern Oklahoma congressional race

In the most closely watched congressional race in the state this year, six Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination in a sprawling district where GOP voters can sometimes be hard to find.

BY CHRIS CASTEEL Modified: June 9, 2012 at 12:00 am •  Published: June 10, 2012
/articleid/3683063/1/pictures/1742689">Photo - Dakota Wood  Claremore
Dakota Wood Claremore

Boren said polling done for his previous campaigns showed only 10 percent of the Democrats in the district identified themselves as liberals.

The rest identified as moderates or conservatives, he said.

God, gays and guns

No Republican has won the district since it was redrawn after the 2000 census — when Oklahoma lost one of its six congressional seats — and the southeastern Oklahoma counties were included.

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, held the 2nd District from 1995 through 2000, before the southern counties were added. But he said a Republican candidate could win it now, even with the Little Dixie portion.

“They’re conservative southern Democrats,” he said. “What they hear out of the national Democratic Party is not what they believe in. … It’s cultural.”

Echoing Sen. Jim Inhofe’s comment in 1994 that his race that year would be won on “God, gays and guns,” Boren said the district is pro-life, pro-gun and against gay marriage.

Boren said that he always ran as a conservative and tried to identify himself through his beliefs, rather than his party.

Spending for votes

So far, the GOP candidates are running as fiscal and social conservatives, embracing the budget priorities of U.S. House Republicans and emphasizing their opposition to illegal immigration, abortion, the health care reform law, gun laws and gay marriage.

Through March, the six candidates had spent more than $700,000 combined on the race, with four of the six candidates spending more than $100,000. Spending could easily top $1 million by June 26 as candidates buy television ads for the last push. And most predict a runoff, meaning the two who get the most votes will have to spend money for two more months for what will likely be far fewer votes.

Matt Pinnell, chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, said the candidates “obviously have to spend it because it’s such a competitive primary.”

The money will have benefits beyond the primaries, he said, since it will build name identification for the general election.

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2nd District at a glance

Registration as of June 5:

•Democrats: 259,813

Republicans: 109,627

Independents: 39,429


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