There are seven Oklahoma republicans running for the senate seat being vacated by retiring incumbent Tom Coburn. Four of them bring little or no political experience to the table. In fact a few of us have to wonder what sort of Quixotic fantasies are floating about inside the skulls of, army veteran Andrew Craig, college professor Kevin Crow, mechanical contractor Eric McCray, and paramedic Jason Weger.
Let's face it, a statewide race for the U.S. Senate isn't cheap. Hell, it costs $1,000 just to file and honestly, as decent as Craig, Crow, McCray, and Weger might be personally, they have less name recognition among the locals than the University of Oklahoma's football team punter.
At some point idealism and ego cross the line into those murky depths known as stupidity and out right insanity. What ever the case may be, as the man once said, "There is a sucker born every minute," and honestly, without them guys like Sheldon Adelson wouldn't make millions of dollars a day, seven days a week. Indeed, there isn't a casino in the world who doesn't love calling some loser's long shot bet. .
The other candidates are former state senator, Randy Brogdon, U.S. Congressman James Lankford, and former Oklahoma House Speaker, T.W. Shannon. Of those three, Brogdon is the least likely to be a factor in the June republican primary. A poll taken last month showed him mired in third place, so far behind Lankford and Shannon, his only major impact might be as a vocal campaigner for the winner of a runoff election. Hey, everyone needs a job and there is no telling what might come available via a new Senator's office.
The leader out of the gate has been Lankford. He has the support of the largest newspaper in the state and has socked back a ton of cash. In addition he has a masters of divinity from a Baptist seminary, which is never a bad thing in a state where nearly one out of three people is a Southern Baptist. Prior to 2011 he worked for the Southern Baptist General Convention and was the program director for the Falls Creek Camp, the largest youth camp in the U.S. run by a Christian denomination.
Despite the evangelical credentials there is a problem in paradise. A story in Brietbart darkly notes Lankford is unacceptable in many eyes because, "he has been cozy with the GOP leadership in congress."
No, that wasn't a typo. Jim Lankford has drawn opposition from here and out of state, not because he was some republican in name only who played pat-a-cake with Barack H. Obama. He is being hammered by the right edge, because he played ball with the senior leadership of his own political party.
T.W. Shannon, on the other hand, untainted by such a sin, is now raking in money as fast as bank transfers can be made. The, "non profit social welfare organization," Oklahomans for a Conservative Future spent nearly $400,000 on pro Shannon television ads and direct mailings in March, which dramatically dropped Lankford's lead in the polls. Since OCF is a non profit it doesn't have to list the people or corporations donating money to it so long as it spends 51% of it's income on--well--social welfare. Right, we can all just imagine what those projects are. As of late last month it's "headquarters" was a mail box at an Oklahoma City UPS store.
On Thursday of this week an all star cast will show up in Tulsa at what is being billed as the, "Liberty Rally" on Shannon's behalf. Sarah Palin and Utah Senator Mike Lee will be there, as well as the Master Blaster of all things tea party, Ted Cruz.
Cruz's office issued this statement about the former speaker, "T.W. Shannon is a strong constitutional conservative who will fight for individual liberty and help turn our country around. T.W. embodies the American dream. I'm proud to offer T.W. my enthusiastic endorsement, because he will not only vote the right way, but he'll stand up and fight with us in the senate to stop President Obama's assault on our liberties and defend America's founding principles."
In other words, he'll listen to me, rather than Mitch McConnell and vote however I tell him.
So, it would appear Oklahoma has become the latest arena in what amounts to a political putsch orchestrated by the mad Canadian. He is, at the moment, as busy as a rabid beaver trying to remake the entire GOP into his mirror image and he won't be satisfied until it is.
Yes, make no mistake about it. We are witnessing a vicious purge in it's infancy. According to the gospel of Ted Cruz there can be no dissent in his party and there certainly can't be any compromise on an issue--ever. As for two plus centuries of house and senate rules and traditions? They're all decadent and must be done away with.
The body politic of the United States of America has never been confronted by such a massive and unrepentant ego.
He scares me. And--no matter what your political affiliation--he should scare you too.